Ladies report: Chelsea 2 Notts County 1
news Thu 1 Sep 2016
The Blues made it three FA Women's Super League wins on the bounce as two goals from captain Katie Chapman completed a spirited comeback at Wheatsheaf Park.
It looked like a frustrating evening was on the cards for Emma Hayes' side when Gemma Davison missed a penalty early in the second half and a defensive error allowed Notts County to take the lead through Jess Clarke. However, two thumping headers by the skipper turned the game around in our favour to keep us in the hunt to retain the WSL title.
After a devastating attacking display up in Birmingham on Sunday, the manager kept faith in largely the same starting XI. Indeed, the only change was an enforced one, as Claire Rafferty missed out through illness and her place at left wing-back went to Ana Borges in a like-for-like switch.
There was little goalmouth action of note in the opening quarter of an hour, but then out of nothing the visitors had three gilt-edged chances in quick succession. It all came about as a result of a crafty free-kick routine to send Clarke through on goal and it took two excellent saves from Becky Spencer to deny Notts County before the third effort was blazed over the bar.
Suddenly the game sparked into life and there was noticeably more urgency about the Blues' attacking play. There were shouts for a penalty when Davison was hit with a robust challenge, but the clearer chances were coming at the other end and Spencer was at full stretch to get her fingertips to a vicious half-volley that was hit on the turn by Angharad James.
Eniola Aluko was constantly looking to get in behind the high line of the Notts County rearguard and one sublime through-ball from a quick free-kick by Carney allowed her time and space to get a shot away which was deflected just wide by a desperate block. Davison, too, was employing a similar tactic to her strike partner and on the stroke of half-time she was presented with a chance to run in on goal only for her touch to let her down.
The Blues No7 was given another wonderful opportunity at the start of the second half from an almost identical move as Chapman played a wonderful ball from her own half to send her one-v-one. Davison jinked past the keeper and was crudely taken out; the referee had no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped the winger to take the penalty, but Walsh guessed right and brilliantly palmed the ball away low to her right hand-side.
The keeper was called upon to make another fine save moments later from a whipped free-kick by Carney and the Blues were looking more like the side which had dismantled Birmingham City at the weekend.
Another free-kick from the opposite side resulted in a free header for Millie Bright which just missed the target – and it proved to be costly as the Lady Pies went up the other end and scored with virtually their first attack of the half. Spencer's pass out to Gilly Flaherty bounced over the defender's foot and into the path of James, who squared to Potter to rifle home from the edge of the box.
The lead proved to be short-lived, however, as Chelsea's next attack resulted in a corner which Ji swung into the six-yard box for Chapman to emphatically head home a deserved equaliser.
The Blues continued to threaten with the long ball over the top, but it was the skipper who put us in the lead for the first time and it was another bullet header. This time the cross came from Blundell and Walsh perhaps could have done more to keep it out, but take nothing away from Chapman – this was a true captain's performance and she got her just reward.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to Adams Park to take on Reading on Sunday 11 September, although Hayes and four of her players will be at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday for 'An Audience With...' evening.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Spencer; Fahey, Flaherty, Bright; Blundell, Chapman (c), Ji (Spence 78), Borges; Davison, Carney (England 81), Aluko
Unused subs: Lindahl, Bailey, Taylor
Goals: Chapman 63, 76
Notts County: Walsh, Krantz, Luik, Buet, F Whelan, Clarke, Williams, Potter, Moore James (Crichton 90), Bassett (c)
Unused subs: Ejupi, A Whelan, Oliver, Hassall
Goal: Potter 61