Ladies report: Yeovil Town 0 Chelsea 2

Chelsea Ladies moved to the top of the table as our 2-0 win at Yeovil, coupled with Manchester City’s defeat at Birmingham, ensured we leapfrogged City ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two teams.

Two goals in the space of three second-half minutes, from substitute Fran Kirby and Jonna Andersson, were enough to do the damage, and the margin of victory would have been more significant but for the performance of Yeovil keeper Megan Walsh, who made a string of important saves, including a couple late on to deny Kirby.

With two WSL1 matches in the space of a four-day period, manager Emma Hayes made significant changes to the starting 11, with Maren Mjelde the only player to retain her place from Sunday’s FA Cup win over Doncaster Rovers Belles.

After coming off the bench and impressing in that game, Erin Cuthbert and Eni Aluko were paired together in attack, with Karen Carney tasked with providing the creativity in a slightly deeper attacking role. Elsewhere, Katie Chapman returned to skipper the side and Becky Spencer started in goal.

It was the Blues who threatened first, with Aluko forcing Walsh into a save after latching on to a Mjelde pass and cutting inside her marker. Moments later her strike partner, Cuthbert, curled a right footed effort just over the bar as we looked to gain an early advantage.

The two forwards almost combined in the 18th minute but Cuthbert’s low delivery, which was seeking out Aluko, was hooked away by Yeovil defender Kayleigh Green.

It was all Chelsea, but the home side were defending well and Walsh was forced into another save from a well-hit Carney free-kick midway through the half, before the Blues’ number 8 saw another strike charged down after we’d fashioned an opportunity with slick passing and intelligent movement.

Ten minutes before the break Cuthbert was then thwarted at the end of a lovely passing move which was started by Gilly Flaherty and also involved Andersson and Aluko.

The pressure was building but with half-time approaching Yeovil were standing firm.

Cuthbert, who had been a threat throughout, was unlucky to see her strike from outside the box well saved by Walsh after slipping the ball through the legs of a Yeovil defender, an effort which proved to be our last of the half.

Spencer had been a virtual spectator for much of the opening 45 minutes, but the Chelsea keeper was called into action shortly after the break, doing well to tip an Ella Pusey free-kick over the bar as it appeared to be dipping into the top corner.

Hayes made a double substitution on the hour as Kirby and Magdalena Eriksson replaced Flaherty and Claire Rafferty respectively, and it was a change which would pay off almost immediately, with Kirby producing a clinical finish as the ball broke to her inside the box to give us the lead.

 

 

It was a crucial breakthrough and just three minutes later, shortly after Aluko had gone close with a header, our lead was extended through Andersson, who arrived at the far post to fire home via a deflection.

 

In the space of a few minutes we had taken control of the contest, and Carney came close to adding a third with a brilliant free-kick which Walsh did well to tip away.

Drew Spence replaced Aluko with 13 minutes left to play, our final change of the night, shortly before Yeovil almost reduced the deficit when Pusey lobbed the ball over Spencer only to see her effort roll inches wide of the post.

That opportunity aside, however, we were able to see the game out with relative ease, and Kirby was unfortunate not to add to her tally when she displayed fantastic technique to control a lofted pass, only to be denied by another fine Walsh save.

Another win, another clean sheet and we move one point clear of Man City ahead of our game against them on Saturday.

All in all, a perfect night's work!

Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Spencer; Thorisdottir, Flaherty (Kirby 60), Rafferty (Eriksson 60); Davison, Chapman (c), Mjelde, Andersson; Carney; Aluko (Spence 77), Cuthbert
Unused subs: Telford, Bright
Scorers Kirby 63, Andersson 66

Yeovil Town (4-1-4-1): Walsh (c); Evans, Burridge (Robinson 82), Green, Miles; Cousins; Buxton (Gauvain 70), Jackson, Heatherson, Pusey; Aldridge.
Unused subs:
Piggott, Beales, Howard, Hignett, Lambe

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