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Football - 12. May 2011.

FA WSL Preview: Top versus bottom clash as Birmingham host Liverpool

Today marks the halfway point in the inaugural FA WSL campaign, with leaders Birmingham facing bottom of the table Liverpool, Arsenal playing Bristol Academy, Lincoln hosting Chelsea and Everton travelling to Doncaster in the televised clash.

By David Brenchley

Birmingham Ladies v Liverpool Ladies. KO: 19:45 @ Stratford Town FC (CV37 7BZ)

Birmingham will be looking to bounce back from dropping their first points of the season with a victory over the league's basement side, Liverpool.

A Kerys Harrop goal eight minutes from time earned Blues a draw against Chelsea at the weekend, the first of their games not to have ended in a Birmingham win.

They were 4-0 victors against Liverpool in the second game of the campaign and another heavy win will be expected by many but manager David Parker knows it will be a stern task for his side.

"Liverpool have been improving game by game," he said. "It was very early on when we played them and we didn't know as much about them, and vice versa, so it will definitely be a closer game.

"They've got good individual players as well that we will have to be wary of," he added before urging the club's fans to turn out in their droves. "We'll be hoping for a big crowd. I'm not too familiar with how the ticket sales stand at the moment but hopefully it will be a good turnout again.

"We've had above average attendances so far in the league so hopefully that continues and our fan base is starting to grow now."

Bristol Academy Women v Arsenal Ladies. KO: 19:15 @ Stoke Gifford Stadium (BS34 8LP)

Bristol Academy host Arsenal in what will be yet another rehearsal for the FA Women's Cup final, which takes place later on in the month at the Ricoh Arena.

Despite losing to the Gunners at Meadow Park earlier in the season, Academy are unbeaten at home so far this season so will go into this game confident after an impressive draw with Everton.

Manager Mark Sampson said: "We showed Arsenal what we are about in our game earlier in the season and it will be the same come Thursday.

"They will be looking to assert their style on the game and we will be looking to assert ours so it will be a big battle early on to see who can get the upper hand.

"It is a home game so it is up to us to set the tempo and that is something we certainly intend to do with our pressing and tackling."

The goal that won it last time out was a screamer from Jennifer Beattie which was chosen as the fans' Goal of the Month for April and the striker-cum-defender commented: "It's a massive thing. It's a new league so to get recognition for goal of the month in the very first month is a huge thing."

Doncaster Rovers Belles v Everton. KO: 19:45 @ Keepmoat Stadium (DN4 5JW) - Live on ESPN

Doncaster Belles defender Maria Karlsson is hoping to go into the mid-season break on a high with a victory over surprise strugglers Everton tonight.

The game will be televised on ESPN and the Swede feels they need to bounce back from their 3-0 reverse against Arsenal at the weekend - a scoreline she does not feel reflected the game.

"It is a massive game for us on Thursday. It is important that we get a positive result because at the moment the league table is so tight and all the teams are so close to each other," she said.

"It is also the last game before the break so would be very nice to get the three points. Also the fact that the game is on ESPN will hopefully attract a big crowd and we can continue to create plenty of chances and put on a good performance.

"Being on television will be an extra incentive for everyone. I'm not sure if a lot of the girls are used to playing in televised games but it should give everybody an extra buzz.

The Belles should have skipper Katie Holtham fit while new signing Abbie Prosser goes straight into the squad but Naomi Chadwick will miss the game.

After impressing in this season's Champions League, Everton have failed to record a victory this term and are still without the influential Fara Williams as well as Brooke Chaplen, Gwennan Harries and Lucy Bronze.

Lincoln Ladies v Chelsea Ladies. KO: 19:45 @ Sincil Bank (LN5 8LD)

Lincoln skipper Casey Stoney has urged her team mates to build on their first win of the FA WSL last weekend by getting one over her former side Chelsea tonight.

A late Lucy Staniforth header secured the Lady Imps' first win of the campaign against Liverpool and they will be looking to keep that winning feeling going when they play third placed Chelsea.

Stoney, who joined Lincoln this summer after four years with the Blues, was pleased to have got the first win of the season and now wants to build on it.

"We did well away to Liverpool and it was brilliant to win," she explained, "but we must back it up with another victory tonight.

"The pressure had been building on us as we had not won a game however the girls pulled out a big performance against Liverpool and got that pressure off our backs.

Stoney has already been back to Chelsea this season, with Lincoln gaining a point there last month and she added: "It will be an emotional game but in a way it is good that we've already played Chelsea this season.

"I've spoken to Rod (Wilson, Lincoln's manager) about a few of their players and their tactics and hopefully we can pick up some more points."

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