Ladies report: Chelsea 3 Birmingham City 1

Chelsea Ladies went top of the FA Women’s Super League thanks to a confident and largely comfortable victory over previous table-toppers Birmingham.

Ji So-Yun gave the Blues the lead in the first half before Gilly Flaherty increased that advantage early on in the second half.

Birmingham, who have two games in hand over Chelsea, briefly got themselves back into the game, but Eniola Aluko restored Chelsea’s two-goal lead a few minutes later.

Team News
Eniola Aluko and Laura Bassett both started after their midweek goalscoring antics for England.

The only team change from the loss at Liverpool saw Laura Coombs named in the starting line-up at the expense of Drew Spence.

First Half
A cagey first 20 minutes saw little of note created by either side, with a series of strong challenges by both teams setting the tone for most of the game.

It was Chelsea who started to take advantage once the game opened up, with Yuki Ogimi’s half volley ricocheting off the bar before an Aluko effort clattered against the post.

The deadlock was finally broken on the half hour when an Ana Borges cross found an unmarked Ji in the area who was able to head home.

Birmingham had several chances, but found Marie Hourihan on top form as she strongly forced away numerous close-range efforts.

Second Half
Chelsea dominated the early stages of the second half and nearly doubled their lead early on when Aluko picked out Ji in the box, but the South Korean fired her shot into the side netting.

The Blues did find another breakthrough after 51 minutes when Birmingham needlessly conceded a corner which was headed in by Flaherty.

Birmingham then narrowed the deficit on 65 minutes when Aoife Mannion forced her shot past Hourihan following a corner.

A two-goal cushion was soon restored when Aluko blasted a powerful shot past Rebecca Spencer in the Birmingham goal on 67 minutes.

Chelsea Hourihan; Blundell, Flaherty, Ogimi, Aluko (Primus 89), Ji So-Yun, Groenen, Borges (Rafferty 68), Chapman (c), Coombs (Buet 84), Bassett.
Unused subs Endler (gk), Wilhelmsson, Meiwald, Ayane.

Scorers
Ji So-Yun 31, Gilly Flaherty 51, Eniola Aluko 67

Birmingham City Spencer, Weston (Torkildsen 90), Carter, Mannion, Harrop, Allen, Linnett (Keryakoplis 84), Carney (c), Potter, Simpkins (Westwood 52), Lawley.
Unused subs Baggeley, Sargeant, Wellings, Stringer.

Scorer
Mannion 65

Referee: Nigel Lugg