Ellen White’s brilliant hat-trick rocked her former club Arsenal’s WSL title bid as Birmingham City ran out impressive 3-0 winners over the Gunners in front of a 921 crowd.
With Chelsea and Manchester City in Champions League action, Arsenal had the chance to crank up the pressure on their title rivals but were stunned by their ex-striker’s treble.
White took her tally for the season to 13 – and seven in the last five games – as the rock-solid Blues kept a remarkable eighth clean sheet in their last nine league matches
Birmingham went ahead as White ran on to Marisa Ewers’ through ball and, spotting Sari van Veenendaal off her line, lofted an exquisite finish just inside the post from 25 yards.
Blues doubled their lead on 40 minutes as Emma Follis’ low cross found White unmarked in the six-yard box and she squeezed home a first-time finish at van Veenendaal’s near post.
Birmingham kept Arsenal at arms’ length after the break and could have had a third on 77 minutes when Follis was felled by Emma Mitchell in the area but Aoife Mannion’s penalty was saved by van Veenendaal.
White capped a memorable day in the final five minutes with a classy lob over the outrushing van Veenendaal from Rachel Williams’ ball.
Birmingham striker Ellen White said: “This result shows how far we have come really and shows the sort of performances we are capable of putting in.
“I think we showed we can keep the ball really well, that we can create chances and that we can defend when we need to.
“Not only do the defence and the goalkeeper pride themselves on a clean sheet, the whole team does as well. Eight clean sheets in the last nine is a great statistic for us.
“My teammates keep putting chances on a plate for me and I’m just delighted to help the team. I’m delighted to finally come away with the matchball – it’s been a long time coming!”
Arsenal’s Danielle Carter said: “Obviously we are disappointed to lose in the manner that we did.
“We were fully focussed on getting the three points today because it was a very important game for us but it wasn’t meant to be.
“The best team on the day definitely won. Ellen White took her chances well and we didn’t create many at the other end.”
“But one goal is not enough in the derby, you need more than that and to be fair to Everton they came back at us. We gave away a scrappy goal and unfortunately we were not able to finish the game off and get three points.
Everton captain Danielle Turner said: “The manager said at half time that he was not very happy with our performance. By our own high standards it was not good enough, own ball retention was poor and we were not good enough all over the pitch.
A clinical Reading performance ensured all three points against Sunderland at Mariners Park.
Fara Williams set the visitors on their way in the 39th minute, with Rachel Furness doubling her side’s advantage – against her former club – in quick-fire fashion just two minutes later.
Reading were reduced to 10 players in the 75th minute as Mary Earps was given a straight red card for handling the ball outside her area, but the visitors held on to move up to third in FA WSL 1.
Sunderland defender Hayley Sharp said: “We are disappointed and frustrated. We just lacked a bit of concentration. We played well and had the opportunities but we just didn’t hit the back of the net.
“We had opportunities and chances and that is what we have got to take out of the game. We created things, we were in and around the box but it is about getting them in the back of the net.”
Reading goalscorer Rachel Furness said: “I didn’t celebrate my goal because I was at Sunderland for nearly 12 years and it is a club I hold dear to my heart. I was happy to get the goal to help Reading but I have got a lot of respect for Sunderland, so it was respectful not to celebrate.
“Yes, we came away with three points but we will look to be better in the next game and be more clinical and play better football. We’re grateful for the three points but we expect better of ourselves.”
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