Leicester get first WSL win after Howard and Tierney put Birmingham bottom | Women’s Super League

Leicester City players and supporters can breathe a sign of relief going into the winter break after goals from the defensive duo Sophie Howard and Sam Tierney against Birmingham secured the team’s first points in the Women’s Super League, with this win pulling them above their opponents.

Speaking before the showdown between the league’s bottom sides the new Leicester City manager, Lydia Bedford, was confident that if her team could “manage the nerves then they will grow in confidence”.

She was right. In a scrappy opening 15 minutes the home team edged things with some neat passing and they were rewarded for their efforts shortly after as the Germany-born Scotland international Howard curled the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the box.

From then the confidence boost was clear and the Foxes should have been two up when Natasha Flint squared for the striker Jess Sigsworth but the 27-year-old put the ball wide from eight yards out.

With Aston Villa having lost 5-0 against Manchester United in the early kick-off, this crunch tie was more than an opportunity to put a bigger gap between the pair battling relegation. It was also a chance to cut the gap between them and the rest, reducing a nine-point gap between 11th and 10th-placed Villa to seven.

Recent matches had suggested it would perhaps be Birmingham brimming with belief going into this tie, having scored four goals in their first two games under the interim manager Darren Carter, trebling their tally this term, despite two defeats. Leicester’s lack of points, though, has been deceiving, with performances not as bad as their league status suggests, having had the worst start for a newly promoted side.

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Birmingham pressed with a little more urgency in the second half but struggled to carve out obvious chances with the home defence solid. “In certain moments when we needed a bit of quality, a pass or a cross, we weren’t good enough,” Carter said.

Instead, a rampaging header from Tierney from a corner kick with 16 minutes remaining would extend the home team’s lead and ease nerves. With 12 games still to play there are a lot of points available, including the return fixture at St Andrews in February, and there is no room for complacency.

“We still have 12 big games this season,” Bedford said. “We could take our eye off the ball after Christmas and it’s really important that the girls use this as a platform for the second half of the season. It gives us a little buffer and a little bit of belief.”

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