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Good evening. It is the final weekend of the WSL Spring series.
Things could not be tighter. Coming up: Chelsea knew victory at
Birmingham would give them the interim title. All the action from a
tense afternoon in the Midlands. Liverpool are Manchester City were
waiting in the wings, ready to pounce should a chance presents
itself. The only unbeaten team in the league, Arsenal could still had
a slim hope of glory as they travelled to Bristol City. Welcome
to a show packed with a million and one permutations. Welcome to both of
you. Since the WSL Spring series began only six weeks ago, we have
had more in our share of thrills and spills. One team has edged ahead.
The free kick and it is in. It is all coming together for Chelsea.
Paris into Duggan. Duggan with the finish.
Duggan. That was tremendous. That is genius. A shot from range. It is in.
Amazing. Spence 7-0. Stanway, she takes the title back for city.
Bachmann, still bagmen. It is the Blues to lose now. Chelsea went into
their match at Birmingham in pole position. The Blues have no margin
for error. A win and the title is theirs. Birmingham boss Mark Skinner
says he is used to the Spring Series to get to know his new charges. He
makes four changes. Defensively they have been extremely well drilled and
are expecting to be out of possession for long periods in the
game for the Chelsea rested key players ahead of the game today.
Kirby still feeling her way back to full match sharpness after injury.
A good ball towards curbing. She has made a mess of that. Is it a
penalty? Yes. Once she missed time do and got the player and not the
ball, the referee had no choice. That was some bravery. She did not
move. A yellow card inevitably following. I don't think it would
ever have been a red card situation but booking was on its way. I don't
think anyone would argue that was a penalty. The former Birmingham City
star, Karen Carney, with the responsibility of giving Chelsea the
lead on a day when victory would give them the title. And she tucks
it in. Saw the keepers shifting away one way and helped it in fairly
centrally in the back of the net. She was a good goalkeeper but it was
really well struck. Chelsea straight back into possession again. Kirby
and Ji combining well. Chapman in support. Good wing play and the
cross is a good one. Header over the top from Davidson. Just seemed to
get in each other's way. I think it was Ji. She could not get a firm
header on it. Not a bad effort. That was clever. Tried to float one over
the top. A clever ball. Lovely. A great save.
That would have been a goal worthy of lifting the title. It was a
brilliant move. Everything about it just said quality.
It was well worked. That was dangerous. The keeper missed it and
they score. Chelsea have a firm grip on the title now. They know they'd
probably have the crown. Excellent build-up play by Chelsea. Horrendous
mistake. Completely misjudged. Hit the post. Allowed for Kirby to get
in there. Not mistake you would expect from the keeper.
Over the top. Another brilliant move that deserved a finish. Quality
touches from the likes of Kirby and Ji.
That was nice from Ji. Still could not get it beyond burger. -- the
keeper. Great play. Just could not get
beyond the keeper. Just holding back the celebrations, which can now
begin in earnest. Chelsea are the WSL Spring Series champions of 2017.
They needed to win today and in reality that was never in doubt once
Karen Carney had dispatched the 22nd minute penalty and when Kirby added
a second early in the second half, the destiny of the title was
assured. They will and the campaign top of the pile, having scored the
most goals, having conceded the fewest number as well. It is hard to
argue that Chelsea have been anything other than the best in the
WSL Spring Series. They are the champions and have done what they
needed to do. Final score, Birmingham- zero - two. Katie
Chapman gets to the front of the squad. They are the champions. About
three, four years ago I missed a penalty that cost us the lead. I was
adamant I would not make the same mistake again. She is a top quality
keeper. We were a bit slow to start, which is not like us. It was credit
to Birmingham. It is important with a club like Chelsea, we want to
continue to play our part in that. I believe it is a justification for
the work we did in the off-season and recruitment and most importantly
the new players and existing players. They have raised their
game. I am so proud of the players. We have shown we are the top team in
the country. We have finished top of the Spring Series. This is our one.
We have earned it and deserve it. We have perhaps stopped the run at a
little bit. It went down to the wire. Word Chelsea worthy winners?
Absolutely. They have been such a force. The recruitment has been
phenomenal. The goals they have scored. The likes of Ramona
Bachmann. Kirby in these last three games has come back and looked
really sharp. Goals are coming from everywhere. The quality and they
have only let in three goals this season and scored 32. That shows you
how they are blowing teams away. That is championship winning form.
In terms of goals, they are coming from right across the front line. It
is right across. In the Chelsea team they have an omnipresent offence. A
special mention as to go to Andrew Spence. Spence has had a massive
impact. What weaknesses did you look at in the Chelsea team it does not
seem like they had many. You must have found an area to exploit? One
of our strengths is to attack as well. We wanted to get at their
defence. There was space down the side because they were playing a
wingback system and that is how he managed to penetrate. They knew the
title was in their hands and their patience should be commended. In
terms of Birmingham, will it be a frustrating Spring Series for them
or is this transition period something that should be expected?
There have been transitional elements to Birmingham. If they are
up against such a great Chelsea side, they are strong. There have
been times when FA WSL Spring Series has not started and Chelsea looked a
lesser force. Her intricate play. -- when Ji did not start. She threaded
the ball through. Kirby has come back and looked sharp. The ball
drifts out wide. Stays unmarked for those whole
passage of play. A terrible error by the goalkeeper. Pops up with another
goal. She will not get an easier finish than that. Congratulation to
Chelsea ladies. Manchester City needed a win at Liverpool to
guarantee second spot. The Reds have surprised many with their form and
had a chance to lay down a major mark against a city side whose
challenge for the trophy has faltered over the past couple of
weeks. Let's run you through the teams.
Liverpool went from first to fourth after a heavy 7-0 defeat at Chelsea
last weekend. Casey Stoney is out with a knock, and Eve Charles
Cousins and left back. Jess Clarke also starts up front. Man City got a
stoppage time winner at Sunderland to move level with Chelsea on
points. Five changes for them, Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan are back in
the starting line-up, as is Kylie Lloyd, making what is set to be her
final appearance of the city after serving a three match suspension.
WHISTLE Hodson with the throw. It is touched
on by Harding, and spilt by the goalkeeper, and helped away, a good
opportunity for Liverpool to take the lead. Only half dealt with by
Marie Hourihan. City have had six wins in the last ten meetings
between these two sides. It is a decent effort and comfortable save
in the end from Chamberlain, she had to watch it all the way.
Well, Bonner has been closed down there. Lloyd has been in support, a
neat turn, and just wide. Good play by the England striker, couldn't
quite wrap her foot around it enough. .
Bronze wins the header, a bit of space to run into here, and Charles
gets back to concede the corner kick. Toni Duggan with the delivery.
And in by Jill Scott. From all of half a yard. Just touched in with
her head, causing all problems therefore Siobhan Chamberlain, and
Jill Scott gives Manchester City the lead at Liverpool. S Clark does
really well to capitalise on that hesitation from Horton, and Harding
wins the corner kick for Liverpool. Bonner, and that was a good, low
delivery from Harding. Gemma Bonner nearly got herself on the scoresheet
once again, already three goals this season. A chance for city here to
double their lead. Lawley with the effort, and
beautiful goal! Mel Lawley with a stunner to double Manchester City's
lead in stoppage time of half-time, her first goal of the Spring series
for her new club, and that is a beauty. And City making their second
substitution of the afternoon, Megan Campbell getting ready to come on.
It looks like it is going to be a straight swap for left-back with
Demi Stokes. Another England international withdrawn.
Here is only key to Paris for Manchester City, and Parris
complaining to the rest about something, she felt that Charles
Cortois, too. Here is Megan Campbell with the free kick for Manchester
City, and it has gone in! Megan Campbell with her first goal for
Manchester City. Her reaction suggests she didn't mean that, but
either way, Manchester City now have a 3-goal lead against Liverpool, and
the Republic of Ireland International celebrates her first
goal for the club. Charles has a run down the far side, but Parris shows
her pace and is equal to it. Charles is held back by Parris, and wins the
free kick. Combs with the delivery, towards
Clark, and what a chance. Free header for Jess Clarke, and she has
put it wide of the post. Harding, she only has Clark in the
middle. Got to get past Campbell first. Here is Caroline Weir. And in
off the post! And Liverpool have their consolation. It looks like
that took her Rihan by surprise little bit. But it is deserved. We
are disappointed we haven't won it, but we are realists, we have had
17-day breaking 16 weeks, but only lose one game in the spring series,
we are proud of that. Today is Kylie Lloyd's last day before she heads
back to the US, how would you sum up her time with you? If our younger
players have even got 1% of her work ethic through playing with her, we
will be a better team and they will be better players. To me, City are
still champions. To win a season over nine games one we played five
when three at home, how can you compare that is a true reflection of
the lead? Today we played the champions. Fourth is a progression.
On the pitch we have been developing, we have played some of
the kids, we are happy with them and we are going in the right direction,
which are pleased with. I have had an amazing experience here. It has
been absolutely fantastic on so many different levels, and just super
proud that I could be a part of it, and I wish them all the best, it
will be weird to jump back in with my Houston team. So, Lloyd saying
her goodbyes to Manchester City, but how big an asset has she been for
the league at the profile of the women's game here? It is great, that
a player of her stature even wanted to come and play here, it shows the
growth of women's football in this country, and like you said already,
about the Mac city players learning from her work ethic, there is no ego
with her, it is all about how hard she works, and that mentality rubs
off on players, and the defensive players having to mark, what is her
movement like? To the whole league. Manchester City wanted to end the
season strongly and came up against Liverpool side who must a little
disappointed with their performance defensively. They have petered out a
little bit, and defensively they have been punished for their lax
defending. I think City were given lots of time, basically, to take
potshots, and this header from Jennifer Beattie, nobody picks up
Jill Scott, it was a simple header home. And this is a great strike,
from that angle it is difficult to get the ball up and over with so
much power in behind Siobhan Chamberlain. But again here,
Liverpool were indecisive, nobody gets tight, no pressure, and another
free shot, so I think that was the main problem for Liverpool. It has
been a demanding season for Manchester City, the spring series,
with the Champions League, the FA Cup run to the final. You have
experienced it at Arsenal. Out of is it? It is tough, but you can't use
it as an excuse. If you want to be champions Yaisien, year out, you
have to look at the depth of your squad, so you can't use it as an
excuse if you want to be the top team consistently, you have to be
able to produce. Indeed. Two more matches to catch up now, starting at
Stoke Gifford, where the beetle -- unbeaten Arsenal side took an Stoke
City. Six minutes after half-time, Arsenal
and England international Jodie Taylor Taider Jordan Nobbs to fire
in a second goal for the visitors. The vixens refused to be worn down,
Chloe Arthur nearly pulled one back, but Arsenal keeper Van de Donk
proved why she is capable Herath hands. Kelly scrambled a third for
Arsenal. Just five minutes later it was time for Arsenal to the fourth
to the scoreline, step forward Danielle van de Donk, her second
goal of the campaign. The late flurry of goals continued, and Van
de Donk this time linked up with Beth Mead who added a fifth and
final goal. Heavy defeat for the vixens, and a third-place finish an
unbeaten Arsenal. We planned this as a test for us to improve in our
competitiveness, to prove how solid we can be as a team, how many
performances with clean sheets can we put on? It is a clear
progression. Sunderland hosted Reading for their final game of the
campaign, and went ahead just before the half-time mark. But Sunderland
made Reading's defence look helpless as Beverley lie Leal brought the
score level. Lauren Bruton had looked good this season but failed
to take advantage of this clear run to take the lead. Reading were left
frustrated again laced on when Kirsty McGee had her shot denied. Of
the finish behind the top four teams is a full-time part-time outfit as
we are to compete against Reading, they are full-time. We held our own,
and if we can make some additions over the summer, I think we can
compete next year. So, Chelsea took the spoils on account of their
incredible goal difference, a superb campaign from Alex's Arsenal,
unbeaten and always in contention. Reading and Sunderland have held
their own throughout the mini season, but promoted Bristol City
and Yeovil must do better. Pedro men should progression in his post match
interview. It is clear to see that there is a progression at Arsenal.
Yes, especially this season, what you have seen as a teamwork ethic.
In the past we have relied on individuals and that hasn't been
there, but going forward we have new personnel to work on, we haven't had
a massive exodus of players in and out so we have a platform to build
on. For a lot of the teams, this has provided an opportunity to build
ahead of next season, but for the promoted teams, it is given them a
chance to see where they stand, and for the likes of Bristol City and
Yeovil Town, there is work to do? There is, but this gives them the
perfect opportunity to realise that if they didn't know before. Teams
like Yeovil and Bristol who know that because they are only part time
will be fighting it out to stay up in the league, they have admitted
that themselves, they need to work on their organisation, make
themselves difficult to breakdown. Reading are full-time now, they have
done that this whole season last season, very difficult to break
down, and that is a great start. Any team that has at this initial
experience of the spring series, but is unsure what they will take
forward. It was very exciting as well going all the way down to the
final day. What are the expectations for when the full season kicks in
over the winter? Can we expect this exciting finish again? Absolutely,
and it is great for the fans, it keeps them on the edge of their
seats and us as players. Every game is competitive, you know you have to
win, you can't slip up because the league tie, except away from you. On
the Champions League front, Manchester City represented the WSL
so well this season, Jill Scott Lucy Bronze were both awarded a place in
the women's Champions League squad of the season. Unsurprisingly it was
packed with members of the team who lifted the trophy last Thursday, and
it was a behaviour burg who was crowned BBC's women's Footballer of
the Year. Barring any injuries they will all be involved in the major
footballing event of the summer, the European Championships. From Mark
Sutton and England, expectation is high after the heroics of the 2015
World Cup. After naming his squad month in advance, Joe Curry found
the England coach happy with how it had worked out, especially with the
return of Fran Kirby. It is a big boost for everyone. It was a tough
one for Fran, but it is great to see her coming back and enjoying her
footballer doing what she does so well. And since you name Jill Scott,
Notts County has folded. That is affected four players. Three have
gone on and found teams, Laura Bassett has decided to stay a free
agent. How worried are you in terms of her fitness and not plain club
matches before the year is? It is nice to see Joe and Jade and Carly
in particular. We had a good conversation around what needs to be
done from when she made that call to when the European Championships
start, she is a model professional unsure understands where she needs
to be, she has been to so many tournaments in the past. She is on
the phone every day to the medical team and looks as working harder she
ever has done. Six weeks from the opening game against Scotland. How
much scope is therefore players to impress in training? There is always
scope, the group is such a tight-knit group and in terms of the
quality, there is not much between the players. We are not the type of
team where everyone in the world who can name our best 11, we are strong
group and some players will put hard yards in to put their hand up a
selection and make sure they are available physically and mentally.
We will be ready to put the best 11 out to beat Scotland.
We are fully aware of what it takes to win at these events and where we
fell short last time. We need to make sure the players are better
prepared this time. Look at the players we have now. We have players
who are used to winning at club level, international level. Since
the World Cup we achieved a bronze medal and we have had a 13 match
unbeaten run. We have beaten Germany and the USA. Only France and Japan
have beaten us. We know we can win when it really matters.
Psychologically we are a tough team. We have a tough manager. Team
bonding has always been such a big thing since he came in as manager.
How do you go about creating that atmosphere in the England team? We
have events in June and July. We're going to watch lame ears as a play.
Learning about what it takes to be the best in the field. They will put
the players through their paces. Most important, it is very
difficult. Who can sing a decent chin? We are really struggling. You
became the first time dad not so long ago. She will be out at some
point. That moment, if or when we win this tournament, I can bring her
on the field. That type of stuff makes you give 100%. We want to
provide a performance and behave and playing away young girls can look up
and respect, saying one day I want to be like that in the future. We
are excited by that challenge I hope my daughter will enjoy that as well.
It must all be feeling quite real now. I know you jet off for one of
your warm up games. What is it like being in a camp, preparing for a
tournament like this? How much are you looking forward to the singing.
I would have to warm up my vocal chords a bit. It is a massive summer
for us and it is finally here. We can put the spring season aside now.
We know if we go over we could change the face of women's football
in the country. That is pressure, a great pressure and we looking
forward to it. There is pressure and expectation on England. Not the same
for Scotland for that they have lost him little. What, for them, would be
realistic? Probably to get a win in that group stage would be initially
successful. I am sure they would be ambitious and tried to get out and
progress out of the group. The best chance is against Portugal. England
against Scotland as with the massive game. Where'd did they finished,
Scotland and England, in that group? I think England will finish top and
Scotland may finish third. We will take that. You'll be able to keep in
touch with all the Netherlands. There is another major tournament
unfolding nightly on the BBC. The best of the action from England
against New Zealand is on BBC Two this Tuesday evening from 1120. Blue
was the colour in the WSL Spring Series. Congratulations to Chelsea.
From all of us here, goodbye for now.