34 min: Hampton deals decisively with a wicked in-swinging cross/shot from Boye-Hlorkah.
32 min: Brilliant save by Hampton! The danger came down the left again and when the cross came in, Graham tries to poke it into the net from six yards but the keeper flung herself at the attacker’s feet to make a courageous block.
31 min: A weak cross by Christiansen relieves the pressure on Birmingham, for now.
29 min: Scott does very well to cut out an attempted cross by Sorensen, at the expense of a corner.
28 min: Scott gets the game’s first booking for pulling back and opponents after being beaten for pace.
25 min: MacIver, Everton’s keeper, is practically playing as a libero, enabling her to send the ball back into opposing territory on the few occasion Birmingham try to venture forward. Mostly, the entire Birmingham team are building metaphorical sandbags in their own third of the pitch.
22 min: Have to hand it to Birmingham: although they’re being outplayed, they’re certainly not discouraged and continue to make it difficult for Everton to break them down.
19 min: Everton’s keeper is required to make her first save of the game, though that is a rather generous description: really all she had to do was bend down and pick up the ball as it rolled towards her from Walker’s hopeful shot from about 30 yards.
17 min: Yet Everton another leads to the best chance to the game so far. The setpiece was deposited into the middle of the six-yard box, where two players met it simultaneously. When the ball broke near the back post, Sevecke reacted with sharpness and agility to flick out her foot and flip a volley off the crossbar!
16 min: Everton are well on top, forcing the hosts to defend deep and a little desperately.
13 min: A clever corner routine by Everton, as its pulled back to the edge of the area, from where Turner clips a teasing ball towards the back post. Sorensen leaps to try to get a little touch on it, but a defender beats her to it.
11 min: Sorensen twists her way past tow down the left and then aims a useful cross towards the penalty spot. But it’s deflected behind for a corner.
9 min: It’s very scrappy fare. Both teams are trying to play their way through the other but precision is lacking and the defending is diligent.
6 min: After a long-range shot is deflected wide, Birmingham earn the game’s first corner. It’s delivered well to the neat post, where the keeper comes to punch clear.
4 min: There’s no question of these sides easing their way into the game: the intensity has been high from the start and the challenges are coming hard and fast.
2 min: Everton’s manager demanded a strong start and he has got it. An early cross from the left brings a mistake from Hampton in the home goal, but she reacts quickly to pounce on the ball after spilling it.
The teams are on the pitch. Everton are wearing mustard yellow while the hosts are in blue with white sleeves. It’s a big moment for Birmingham centreback Gemma Lawley, in particular: not everyone gets to make their debut in a FA Cup semi-final!
The managers pre-match thought
Birmingham’s Carla Ward: “There is no pressure. [The players] can can go and enjoy it … Now is the opportunity, don’t waste it.”
Everton’s Willie Kirk: “The key is the way we start the game. We were very disappointed with the way we started on Sunday. We managed to recover from it but you don’t always get a second chance.”
Weather report: it’s absolutely lashing it down in dusky Birmingham. The grass is going to be slick, and any players still feeling stiff from Sunday’s exertions will be hoping nothing goes twang.
Birmingham: Hampton, Scott, Corsie, Lawley, Holloway, Whipp, Green, Murray, Mayling, Walker, Kelly
Subs: Napier, Scofield, Grant, McCarron, Toussaint
Everton: MacIver, Moe Wold, Turner, Finnigan, Sevecke, Clemaron, Christiansen, Sorensen, Boye-Hlarkah, Graham, Magill
Subs: Koepeka, Egurrolla, Stringer, Pike, Roso, Gauvin, Pattinson
Hello and welcome to the first FA Cup semi-final. There’s no doubt who comes into this tie as favourites: Everton have made a strong start to this season, winning both their opening league matches before defeating Chelsea, no less, in Sunday’s quarter-final.
By contrast, Birmingham lost their opening two leagues games, which doesn’t augur well for their chances of avoiding another relegation scrap but, on the other hand, they suggested that they are improving fast by reaching this semi-final at the expense of Brighton, who had beaten them three weeks previously in the league. Mind you, that win, on penalties, may have taken a lot of the team, which is why manager Carla Ward denounced the “ridiculous” scheduling of this match, just two full days later. But this is where we are. So Birmingham have to find a way to muster another big performance if they are to set up a FA Cup final date with either Arsenal or Manchester City.