Ladies report: London Bees 3 Chelsea 3 (4-2 on pens)
news Sat 2 Jul 2016
Beth England's brace wasn't enough for the Blues as we exited the Continental Cup on penalties against the London Bees.
After taking an early lead through England's stunning effort, the Blues looked to be in complete control until Gilly Flaherty's unfortunate own goal was followed by a red card for Niamh Fahey. The Bees scored again and were on the brink of a spot in the next round, but Millie Bright scored in the dying seconds and England added her second of the game in extra-time to put us back in front before a dramatic late equaliser sent the tie to a penalty shoot-out, which the Blues lost 4-2.
Following the midweek win in Sunderland, Emma Hayes shuffled her pack. Fran Kitching came in for Hedvig Lindahl to make her competitive debut between the sticks and she was joined by another debutant as Alessia Russo took her place up front alongside Eniola Aluko. There was also a return to the starting line-up for Flaherty, Hannah Blundell and England; Bright, Ana Borges, Katie Chapman, Claire Rafferty and Ji So-Yun all dropped out of the team that thrashed the Black Cats.
The Blues made a fantastic start to the game when England, playing as a left wing-back, smashed home a spectacular strike in the opening 10 minutes. There seemed to be little danger when she received the ball 25 yards from goal, but the keeper was left grasping at thin air as she sent a scorching effort into the top corner.
Chelsea were dominating possession without penetrating the Bees' dogged rearguard, but Blundell almost found a way through midway through the first half with a speculative effort from outside the box which almost lofted over the head of Davies. The keeper's outstretched hand just about tipped it over the bar.
Although the Bees' primary focus was to frustrate the Blues' attacking players, it wasn't all one-way traffic and their most incisive break of the half almost result in a goal. Evdokia Popadinova got away down the right and sent in a teasing centre which Nicola Watts sent just wide on the half-volley.
There were further opportunities for Chelsea to extend our advantage before the break, the best of which fell to Spence after she jinked past her marker to open up a chance for a low strike which the keeper did well to push wide at the near post.
It was more of the same at the start of the second half, with Aluko's silky turn allowing her space to smash a shot which was just a touch too high, as the Blues went in search of a second goal. Flaherty, too, threatened to get on the scoresheet, but her header from Carney's corner was straight at the keeper.
However, there was a twist in the tale as the Bees drew level just before the hour mark with a goal against the run of play. Popadinova was sent clean through on goal and Kitching was out quickly to deny her, but the ball rebounded off of Flaherty and bounced into the back of the net.
Chelsea's response was to send on Borges and Ji, and immediately two chances came our way for Carney and Davison, but then the Bees hit back straight away and only a goal-line clearance from Flaherty kept the scores level.
An end-to-end thriller was developing and both Aluko and Davison were denied only by the brilliance of the goalkeeper, with Davies' save to keep out the latter particularly impressive as she threw out her left leg to somehow turn the ball over the bar.
Then, disaster struck for the Blues as Fahey brought through Wilson as she raced clear on goal. The referee sent off the Chelsea centre-back and it was almost a double whammy as the resulting free-kick cannoned back off the crossbar and away to safety.
It was only a temporary reprieve, and with 10 minutes remaining the Blues fell behind to a goal from Wilson as the forward burst through and hit a low shot which Kitching managed to take the sting out of but Bright, who had just entered the field from the substitutes' bench, just failed to clear before it crossed the line.
The Bees were on the verge of a famous victory, repelling every Chelsea attack, but Bright was in the right place at the right time to lash home a last-gasp equaliser from Davison's corner, sending the tie into extra-time.
It took just five minutes of the additional period for our advantage to be restored and it was England who was on target for the second time in the game. Good work by Davison and Borges saw the ball crossed to the back stick, where England climbed above her marker to head home.
That looked to be enough for the Blues, but the home side simply did not know when it was beaten and Cooper forced home an equaliser late on to force a penalty shoot-out.
Although Kitching made a fine save from the first penalty and Chelsea converted through Davison, both Carney and Ji were unable to score from the spot. Flaherty ensured Will would have to score the Bees' final spot-kick, which she duly did to send the Blues out of the competition at the first hurdle.
The Ladies now have a run of three home games, each in the FA Women's Super League, on consecutive Sundays, starting with Birmingham City.
London Bees: Davies, Fogarty, Watts, Anderson (Will 103), Naprta, Goddard (c), Cooper, Popadinova, Beckett, Wilson (Hinchcliffe 85), Howells
Unused subs: Georgiou, Scanlon, Clarke
Goals: Flaherty (og) 58, Wilson 80, Cooper 114
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Kitching; Bailey, Fahey, Flaherty (c); Blundell (Borges 59), Carney, Spence, England; Davison; Russo (Ji 59), Aluko (Bright 76)
Unused subs: Lindahl, Joel, Cross
Goals: England 8, 95 Bright 90+2
Sent off: Fahey 73
Penalty shoot-out: Beckett saved (0-0); Davison scored (0-1); Watts scored (1-1); Carney saved (1-1); Goddard scored (2-1); Ji missed (2-1); Cooper scored (3-1); Flaherty scored (3-2); Will scored (4-2)