Irish-heavy Birmingham relegated as McCabe's Arsenal take title race to final day

The Gunners, now one point behind leaders Chelsea, enjoyed a big North London Derby win at the Emirates.

Birmingham City's Harriet Scott (left), Sarah Ewens (centre) and Louise Quinn appear dejected as relegation is confirmed.
Birmingham City's Harriet Scott (left), Sarah Ewens (centre) and Louise Quinn appear dejected as relegation is confirmed.
Image: PA

THERE WAS DISAPPOINTMENT for Birmingham City and its seven-strong Republic of Ireland contingent as the club was relegated from the Women’s Super League [WSL] this evening.

The Blues had been rock-bottom of the English top-flight for some time now, but tonight’s 6-0 defeat to Manchester City confirmed the drop.

The result also put City in the driving seat for Champions League qualification, as Gareth Taylor’s side moved above their Manchester rivals, United, into third.

Second-half goals from Georgia Stanway (two), Lauren Hemp, Alanna Kennedy, Chloe Kelly and Laura Coombs delivered their eighth league win in-a-row, and ended Brums’ lengthy stay in the WSL.

The Irish crew were all involved on matchday. Captain Louise Quinn — who has been nominated for WSL Player of the Month — Jamie Finn and Harriet Scott all started for the Blues, with Lucy Quinn, Eleanor Ryan Doyle, Emily Whelan and Marie Hourihan on the bench. 

Quinn and Whelan both featured as substitutes, but Birmingham, a founder-member of the league in 2010, now face Championship football in 2022/23.

manchester-city-v-birmingham-city-barclays-fa-womens-super-league-city-football-academy Birmingham will play in the Championship next season, with Liverpool taking their place in the WSL. Source: PA

Arsenal, meanwhile, teed up an enthralling final day with victory over rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium leaving them a point off leaders Chelsea.

A 3-0 win, courtesy of an early Beth Mead strike – her third in two WSL games at the Emirates this term – and Caitlin Foord’s second-half double meant the title race will go down to the wire.

Ireland captain Katie McCabe, a regular starter for the Gunners this season, was held in reserve, but got stuck in on her introduction from the bench:

McCabe saw yellow in the 72nd minute, five minutes after her arrival.

These north London neighbours should have met here on 26 March but the fixture was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak among the Spurs squad.

Moving the game to make it the penultimate fixture of the campaign only added to the sense of occasion as Arsenal and Tottenham clashed at the Emirates for the first time.

Arsenal travel to West Ham on Sunday knowing they will be crowned champions if they can better Chelsea’s result against Champions League-chasing Manchester United.

A sign of Tottenham’s improvements came as Arsenal needed a stoppage-time leveller from Vivianne Miedema when the sides met earlier in the campaign, but this turned into a more comfortable night.

This time around, with a title still very much within reach, Arsenal were ahead as the clock struck four minutes.

arsenal-v-tottenham-hotspur-barclays-fa-womens-super-league-emirates-stadium McCabe applauding the Arsenal fans tonight. Source: PA

Mead collected a pass from Leah Williamson and drove into the box before finishing well for her sixth goal in as many WSL appearances.

That was as good as it got in a first half where Spurs largely kept the hosts at arm’s length, Miedema shooting wide and Foord drawing a smart save from Tinja-Riikka Korpela.

The second period followed a similar pattern until a short-corner routine caught Spurs napping with 19 minutes to go.

Foord slid in at the back post to convert Miedema’s low shot and double the lead.

The local derby element to the contest arrived soon after with the players squaring up following a rash challenge from Maeva Clemaron on Lia Walti.

The points were secured in style with Foord bending home her second of the night before Angela Addison hit the post with a last-gap penalty for Spurs as Arsenal took a riveting fight with Chelsea all the way to the final round.

- Additional reporting by Emma Duffy. 

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