Ladies report: Chelsea 8 London Bees 0

Chelsea Ladies convincingly booked a quarter-final place in this season’s Continental Tyres Cup with a big home win in the final group-stage game at Staines.

The competition is contested by teams from both divisions of the FA Women’s Super League with today’s opponents from the second tier. The Blues, the FA WSL 1 leaders, emphasised the gap to the top with a first-half hat-trick from Marija Banusic (pictured top) and four goals in the second-half from teenager Rosella Ayane. Defender Laura Rafferty also added her name to scoresheet in the first-half.

The win keeps Chelsea Ladies on course for a domestic treble in 2015.

There were five changes from the side that beat Millwall Lionesses 6-0 in this competition on Wednesday night, but once again Emma Hayes lined her side up with a back-three and it was the use of wing-backs, Ana Borges on the right especially, that proved decisive in all but finishing this contest by half-time with the Blues 4-0 ahead.

There was an early warning for London Bees, who lost 13-0 to Chelsea in a game in this competition a year ago, when Borges placed a ball through for Jodie Brett to chase but it bounced through to the keeper.

Banusic, on her sixth start of the season as part of a two-pronged attack with Atlanta Primus, then battled to make something from loose control in the Bees defence before the first clear chance of the game. Found onside by a long pass from the left, Laura Coombs steadied herself but hit a diagonal shot just wide.

Two Banusic shots were saved in the space of a minute but there was a brief threat from the opposition when with the Bees’ first real attack, Emma Whitter poked a shot not too far wide. Another Banusic shot was saved and Blundell, operating as a left wing-back, fired wide.

Coombs continued to cause the Bees problems with her runs from midfield behind the defence and it was clear Chelsea were trying to expose their opponents for pace with early balls forward.

It was a tactic that paid dividends with 15 minutes on the clock. Drew Spence was the player with the long delivery out wide that found Borges in acres on the right. With time to look up and aim, the Portuguese wide player delivered the ball perfectly for Banusic to find the net with a firm strike at the far post.

The half was at the midway point when a close copy of the opening goal made it 2-0, the main difference being Banusic heading in Borges’s higher delivery.

Spence could have added a third goal from the same source but headed at the keeper.

When an enterprising run from the back by Anne Meiwald won a free-kick, a Banusic hat-trick was on the cards. The keeper saved the powerful free-kick but it was a very short reprieve. Laura Rafferty was on hand to score from the rebound.

Banusic did not have to wait long for her third goal and Chelsea’s fourth. London Bees dithered when the chance was there to clear their box and the striker smashed the loose ball home.

Half-time was approaching when Borges with the ball at her feet took on her marker for pace and left her for dead, but she couldn’t finish.

There had been little asked of the Chelsea back-three and keeper in the opening half but Jenna Leg stopped one attack with an excellently timed tackle, and Marie Hourihan grabbed a shot well from under her bar when they were called into duty.

Brett came close to adding a fifth before the break with a lob that was caught by a falling Sophie Harris just before it dropped in.

London Bees enjoyed their best spell of the game at the start of the second-half, including a header from a corner that was deflected onto the crossbar. Chelsea had switched things around at the break with the wing-backs swapping flanks and Banusic back in midfield since the introduction of Ayane (pictured right) up front for her second game of the season. The 19-year-old soon had her first goal of the campaign too, a neat finish on the run from just inside the area.

Ayane put Chelsea 6-0 ahead only five minutes later, this time found running clear down the left-hand channel and scoring with an equally confident low strike.

The goals kept coming for the young striker who was scoring with almost every touch. Another player benefitting from early service, her hat-trick was secured from close-range and she fired Chelsea 8-0 ahead with a 20-yarder that went in off the bar.

A Blundell 25-yarder that deflected wide off a defender and Ayane chipping a shot not too far wide kept the pressure on in the closing minutes. The final chance fell to Brett who shot just wide. A young Chelsea side, with Lauren Pickett and Ocean Ronaldsen given a first chance during the second half, had thoroughly merited such a convincing scoreline.

Reaction

‘We had a few players in new positions and the younger players reacted well, especially Jenna Legg who was good from start to finish,’ reported TJ O’Leary, a member of the Ladies coaching staff.

‘We had talked about the tempo of our game and against teams who sit deep you have to move the ball quickly and we did that at times.

‘Rosella Ayane as a lot of potential as we saw today. She needs to carry on working and be ready for the next opportunity but she can play different positions and can use both feet. The shot that went in off the crossbar for her fourth goal was not with her natural foot. She always has goals in her.

‘We now have some massive games coming up but the players are fresh, confident and on a good run. We kept our momentum going while also giving some players a rest.’ 

The leaders in the Women’s Super League resume their quest for that title next Sunday, with a home game against Notts County, the side they defeated in the FA Cup final. That match, which has a 2pm kick-off at Staines, is the third to last of the league season.  

Chelsea Ladies (3-5-2) Marie Hourihan; Jenna Legg, Laura Rafferty, Anne Meiwald; Ana Borges, Laura Coombs (c), Jodie Brett, Drew Spence (Rosella Ayane h-t), Hannah Blundell; Marija Banusic (Ocean Ronaldsen 65), Atlanta Primus (Lauren Pickett 63).
Unused subs Fran Kitching, Gilly Flaherty.
Scorers Banusic 16, 23, 35. L Rafferty 31, Ayane 55, 60, 64, 67.

London Bees Harris, Brooks, Dempster, Hurley, Huggins, Anderson, Wakefield, Howells (Howes 58), Goddard (Georgiou 65), Fraser, Whitter (Hinchcliffe 61).
Unused subs: Riches, Miller, Nicol, Davies.

Attendance 597