Ladies report: Chelsea 1 Arsenal 2
news Sun 17 Jul 2016
Chelsea Ladies slipped to a narrow defeat in this FA Women's Super League London derby despite leading early on.
Alex Scott's own goal put the Blues in front after only 10 minutes, but Vicky Losada's header on the stroke of half-time drew the Gunners level. Although we had the better chances in the second half, Danielle van de Donk scored a dramatic late winner to give the visitors the three points.
A week on from the 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, Emma Hayes made three changes to her starting line-up as Niamh Fahey returned to the side at the expense of the suspended captain Katie Chapman and Hannah Blundell and Eniola Aluko replaced Ana Borges and Karen Carney, both of whom dropped to the bench.
Despite the sweltering conditions at Wheatsheaf Park, Chelsea raced out of the blocks in the early stages and a bright start should have been rewarded with a penalty kick when Gemma Davison appeared to be tripped in the penalty area. The referee was unmoved, though it mattered little as the Blues soon took the lead.
In a game of such high quality, the opener was a comical own goal by Scott. Neither the Gunners skipper or keeper Sara van Veenendaal came out of the episode with much credit, as Scott misplaced her back-pass from the touchline and put a bit too much on it, which left the keeper stretching to control the ball only to see it bounce over her foot and roll into the back of the net.
Arsenal responded with a few pot shots from distance, none of which caused Hedvig Lindahl any concern, and the home side continued to look threatening on the counter-attack through the pace of the front two, with Aluko and Davison constantly looking to run at and in behind the Gunners' rearguard.
However, our best chance was to fall to Drew Spence, whose run from midfield was perfectly found by Aluko's slide-rule pass. With all of the time and space in the world, the Blues No24 should have found the back of the net, but credit is due to Van Veenendaal for a splendid save to deny her.
Jordan Nobbs was looking Arsenal's most likely source of a goal as she floated just behind the front two, while Danielle Carter looked to repeat her Women's FA Cup final heroics with a speculative shot which flew wide.
Just as it looked as though the Blues would get into the dressing room at half-time with our lead intact, the visitors netted a goal out of nothing. A corner kick was curled towards the edge of the six-yard box and Vicky Losada flicked a header into the far corner to draw Arsenal level.
The goalscorer almost put Arsenal ahead shortly after the interval, this time with a strike from distance. Lindahl got down well to keep the initial shot out, but three Gunners players converged on the rebound and it was a huge let off for the Blues when the ball sailed up and into the keeper's arms.
The visitors continued their bright start to the half and by the 56th minute Hayes had seen enough – on came Beth England in place of Davison to liven things up. It almost paid off immediately when the Blues won the ball high up the pitch and Spence's through-ball to Aluko was superbly cut out by Henning.
Just as Chelsea's management responded to a period of pressure against her side, so too did Arsenal. The powerful Oshoala and Natalia entered the fray in place of Mitchell and Carter with 25 minutes of the contest remaining. Oshoala's first action, however, was at the other end as she superbly kept out Ji, but the pressure was maintained and the South Korean brilliantly tricked her way past two defenders in the box only to see the keeper palm away her goal-bound shot.
Then, just moments later, the Blues attacked down the left and Spence played in Aluko. The angle was against Chelsea's No 9 but that didn't deter her as she unleashed a vicious strike which cannoned back off the angle of post and bar.
The introduction of Borges almost paid off immediately as she raced clear down the right and dinked a delightful cross to the back stick which Rafferty just couldn't turn past the keeper, and we were made to pay for the miss less than a minute later. The Gunners went straight on the attack and Van de Donk rounded Lindahl before sliding the ball into an empty net.
That proved to be the decisive action in a thrilling game and Chelsea will hope for better luck when Doncaster Rovers Belles visit next Sunday.
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Lindahl; Fahey, Flaherty (c), Bright; Blundell (Carney 83), Spence (Borges 81), Bailey, C Rafferty; Ji; Davison (England 56), Aluko
Unused subs: Spencer, Taylor
Goal: Scott (og) 10
Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Scott (c), Mitchell (Natalia 64), Stoney, Henning, Williams, Losada, Janssen, Carter (Oshoala 64), Van de Donk, Nobbs (Rose 87)
Unused subs: Byrne, McCabe, Smith
Goals: Losada 44, Van de Donk 83
Booked: Van de Donk