By Oliver Yew at Meadow Park
Former Arsenal forward Karen Carney wrecked Arsenal's unbeaten start to the FA Women's Super League as her third goal of the season helped Birmingham City come from behind to seal a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Meadow Park.Laura Harvey's side - missing key players Faye White, Jayne Ludlow and Steph Houghton - took the lead thanks to Ellen White's first goal of the season but were pegged back by a Rachel Williams header before Carney pounced on Gilly Flaherty's error to extend her side's lead to six points at the top of the league.Birmingham looked dangerous in the opening exchanges as Carney turned Flaherty and looked to streak clear of the Gunners' back four but the defender was adjudged to have pulled her back.The resultant free-kick did not trouble Arsenal's back four but it was not long before they were on the back foot again as Niamh Fahey blocked Dunia Susi's goalbound shot.However as the game wore on the Gunners midfield started to get a grip on the game with Kim Little and captain Katie Chapman pulling the strings for Arsenal in the middle of the park.Little turned the ball into Danielle Carter's path down the right and the forward's cross nearly dipped into the far corner.Arsenal kept on pressing forward as Chapman's 15-yard volley forced a good save from keeper Marie Hourihan low down to her right and White's shot crept past the far post in the 25th minute.But despite Harvey's side's dominance it was Birmingham who created the best chance of the half three minutes later.City forward Carney found space on the left and her cross fell to Susi in acres of space but she rushed her shot which sailed high over the bar.They almost broke the deadlock when Williams' powerful drive had to be tipped around the post by the home side's keeper Emma Byrne.It was end-to-end stuff and it was Arsenal who made the visitors pay for their wastefulness in front of goal.In the 40th minute striker White raced through onto Carter's perfectly-weighted through ball and kept her cool to lift the ball over the stranded Birmingham keeper and give her side the advantage at the break.The home side nearly doubled their lead at the start of the second half as Rachel Yankey pulled the ball back for White but the goalscorer's shot rebounded off the bar from six yards.White was denied again minutes later but this time it was Hourihan who deflected her shot past the post.Now it was Arsenal's turn to pay for wastefulness in front of goal as Birmingham got back in the game as Williams got on the end of Jade Moore's cross to steer a header back across goal and into the far corner for her sixth goal of the season.It was no more than Birmingham deserved for their efforts and with the game hanging in the balance both sides pushed for a winnerAnd it was Arsenal who cracked first as Carney pounced on a Flaherty mistake to round the goalkeeper and tap home into an empty net in the 74th minute to spark wild celebrations among the visiting players and coaching staff.With just over 15 minutes left the home side responded by sending on Juile Fleeting for Carter and Arsenal responded through Yankey and then White but both failed to hit the target with close-range shots.Arsenal were frantic in search of the equaliser but Birmingham held firm until the final whistle to claim a famous victory.
Referee: T Donnellan
Copyright 2018 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.