Arsenal Ladies bid to overturn Champions League deficit against Birmingham
13:10 26 March 2014
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Manager Shelley Kerr admits Arsenal Ladies must raise their creative output to overturn a one-goal deficit in their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Birmingham this weekend.
The visitors failed to create many opportunities and did not force a single save from Birmingham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer as they went down to a Remi Allen goal in Monday’s first leg at St Andrew’s.
The two Women’s Super League rivals meet again on Sunday at The Hive, Barnet, and Kerr acknowledged: “With the quality players we have, we should do better.
“We moved the ball sideways and backwards, but we just couldn’t penetrate and it was something that we’ve worked on for the last few weeks.
“Their goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make, so in that respect we were really disappointed. We had lots of possession – unfortunately possession doesn’t always win you games.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult in trying to find those little gaps. I don’t think we passed the ball as well as we could do and that’s something that we will look to change.
“There’s another 90 minutes to go and obviously both teams will regroup. We need to try and create more space than this and break down a very tough Birmingham team.”
Japanese international striker Shinobu Ohno provided Arsenal’s greatest goal threat at St Andrew’s, having an early attempt charged down and then firing Alex Scott’s cross over the bar.
The Blues squandered a good opportunity to take the lead when Emma Byrne punched out a cross straight to Melissa Lawley, whose first-time attempt was off target.
But the home side broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when Chelsea Weston delivered a cross from the right and Allen swept it past Byrne.
Full-back Emma Mitchell prevented a second Birmingham goal soon afterwards as she hooked Kirsty Linnett’s effort off the line.
Linnett went close again in the second half with a drive that Byrne beat away, but the Gunners might have levelled late on when Kelly Smith supplied a cross that Ohno could only volley over.
“I think a lot of credit should go to Birmingham,” added Kerr. “Tactically they obviously observed us in lots of games and they know the way that we play.
“They were more physical than us and they won most of the first and second balls. They started to get hold of the ball and it’s something that we weren’t good at.”
n Ticket for Sunday’s second leg, which kicks off at 2pm, are available on the gate at £5 (adults) and £2.50 (concessions).