Ladies report: Bristol City 1 Chelsea 2

A last-minute Karen Carney penalty ensured Chelsea made it two wins out of two in the Continental Tyres Cup against Bristol City.

After a frustrating first half, the Blues took the lead through Eniola Aluko, who finished after brilliantly turning her marker. However, a late Millie Turner equaliser looked to have earned Bristol a draw against the run of play before Carney both won and converted a penalty in stoppage time.

It was a much-changed starting line-up to the one which took to the field against Brighton in midweek, with Maria Thorisdottir, Magda Eriksson and Maren Mjelde the only players to retain their place in the team.

Becky Spencer came in between the sticks and Thorisdottir, Gilly Flaherty and Magda Eriksson made up the back three. Hannah Blundell and Crystal Dunn filled the wing-back positions alongside a midfield three of Drew Spence, Mjelde and Carney. Aluko and Erin Cuthbert lined up in attack.

The first half was largely one filled with frustration for the Blues, as Bristol sat deep and offered little by way of attacking threat, but it could have been an altogether different story had we scored with our first meaningful foray into the home team's penalty box.

Blundell was the creator, playing a deft cushioned pass through to the onrushing Spence. Having done the hard part of holding off the defender, the Blues No24 struck a powerful shot towards the far corner but it was brilliantly turned behind by Leach.

With space in the attacking third largely at a premium, Thorisdottir was happy to step out of defence with the ball to try and make something happen, offering another threat for the visitors, but it was one of our strikers who fashioned a chance on the quarter-hour mark. Aluko's movement to get in behind was clever and she very nearly caught the keeper out at the near post with a fierce low drive which kissed the woodwork on its way behind.

As the half wore on, and with the Blues struggling to find a way through, Mjelde and Spence both tried their luck from distance to no avail; the former's shot was well saved, while only a desperate block by a Bristol defender prevented Spence's effort from finding the target.  

 Maren Mjelde on the attack

The Norwegian midfielder then came close to opening the scoring with two efforts in quick succession which displayed the all-round threat she poses in the final third. The first was a stooping header from a super cross by Carney that was brilliantly tipped wide by Leach, and the keeper then repeated the trick from a superb free-kick that was destined for the bottom corner.

All the frustration of the first half soon evaporated, however, as Aluko broke the deadlock within two minutes of the restart. With her back to goal, the Blues No9 received a pass on the edge of the box and turned her marker in one slick movement. With only the keeper to beat she made no mistake, clinically sliding the ball home.

Whatever the manager said at half-time had clearly had an effect on her players as suddenly there was far greater urgency in the attacking third. Both Spence and Carney were unfortunate not to double our advantage as both players hit shots into the sidenetting in quick succession, the former's possibly with a touch off the outside of the post.

That was Spence's last meaningful action of the game as she soon made way for Fran Kirby and in the 70th minute Hayes opted for a double-change at wing-back, with Claire Rafferty and Gemma Davison coming on for Dunn and Blundell.

However, Bristol made two substitutions of their own and it seemed to galvanise the home side into their best attacking spell of the match. Spencer was so nearly caught out by one effort and then had to be quick off her line to snuff out another, while the Blues defence were indebted to Turner directing a free header over the bar.

The warning hadn't been heeded, though, and the same player was on hand to finish at the second attempt after Spencer had brilliantly kept out her first effort.

Just as it looked like penalties would be needed to settle the game, as is now customary in the group stage of this competition, a driving run by Carney saw her taken out in the penalty box. The referee pointed to the spot and the same player picked herself up to send the keeper the wrong way.

Few could argue the result was undeserved, but even fewer could have foreseen the late drama at the Stoke Gifford Stadium. The Blues now move on to the first leg of our Champions League last-16 tie against Rosengard on Wednesday night at Kingsmeadow.

Bristol City Leach, Dykes, Brown, Kerkdijk, Arthur, Humphrey (Woolley 78), Daniels, Hemp, Allen, Turner (c), Biesmans
Unused subs Watson, Matthews, Fergusson, Palmer, Wilson
Scorer Turner 85

Chelsea (3-5-2) Spencer; Thorisdottir, Flaherty (c), Eriksson; Blundell (Davison 70), Spence (Kirby 63), Mjelde, Carney, Dunn (Rafferty 70); Aluko, Cuthbert
Unused subs Lindahl, Bright, Ji, Bachmann
Scorers Aluko 47, Carney (pen) 90