LADIES REPORT: BRISTOL ACADEMY 0 CHELSEA 1
An early Dani Buet penalty saw Chelsea Ladies return to winning ways with a spirited display against Bristol Academy at the Stoke Gifford Stadium.
The visitors started the match brightly, making a breakthrough after just four minutes. As Adriana rose to contest a cross, a flailing arm caught the face of the Spanish striker. It led referee Lisa Rashid to point to the spot and Buet slotted into the bottom corner to give Chelsea an early lead.
As the hosts looked to react, a slick, counter-attacking move saw Bristol come close to an equaliser. Carly Telford came out to smother an Alex Windell chance and took a knock in the process. Minutes later, the Blues had the woodwork to thank for denying Jemma Rose, as her header bounced off the crossbar.
Despite the bright start to the match, the Blues' fortunes turned towards the end of the half. Kate Longhurst, deployed in an unfamiliar midfield role, was caught by a late challenge which brought a premature end to her evening.
As a result, Lara Fay was introduced to the match as half-time approached. Chelsea suffered another blow when Claire Rafferty was withdrawn with a knee injury, and when Dunia Susi failed to emerge for the second half, the scene was set for a challenging 45 minutes.
Despite the tall order facing them, the visitors almost doubled their lead early in the second half. Breaking clear of the Bristol backline, Helen Lander bore down on goal, only to be denied by Siobhan Chamberlain before the game took yet another twist.
Looking to clear their lines on the edge of the penalty area, Dani Buet's challenge on Laura Del Rio was adjudged to be worthy of a second yellow, leaving the visitors with a mammoth task in the remaining 35 minutes.
In the face of increasing adversity, the Blues' defence stood firm. Firstly Bonner bravely blocked a powerful, long-range drive, before a Corinne Yorston's volley ricocheted off the crossbar. As the Bristol onslaught ensued, Lara Fay proved to be the coolest head in the Chelsea penalty area, showing admirable composure to control and clear the ball following a goalmouth scramble.
After the match, manager Emma Hayes was delighted with the spirit shown by her side following two successive losses.
'We talked before the game about belief and the importance of believing even in the face of adversity,' said Hayes. 'The whole team showed amazing spirit, and for a young side they showed real maturity to get the result.'
Chelsea (4-4-2): Carly Telford (C); Dunia Susi (Kylie Davies HT), Gemma Bonner, Sophie Ingle, Claire Rafferty (Sophie Perry 45); Dani Buet, Kate Longhurst (Lara Fay 43), Laura Coombs, Helen Bleazard; Helen Lander, Adriana Martin.
Unused sub Sue Lappin