Chelsea FC Women are through to the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup.
Goals from Niamh Charles, Jess Carter, Melanie Leupolz and a brace from Drew Spence got our FA Cup campaign up and running at Kingsmeadow on Friday evening.
The Blues had been denied by the woodwork three times in the first 20 minutes before Charles opening the scoring when she latched onto a ball from Hannah Blundell and slotted past the keeper.
Carter then doubled our advantage just before the half hour mark when the defender volleyed home a Charles corner.
Leupolz made it three minutes later as the German midfielder fired a 35-yard strike into the top corner to give the Blues a 3-0 half-time lead.
Chelsea added a fourth 10 minutes into the second half when Charles got in down the right and picked out Spence who tapped home from close-range.
The No.24 then grabbed her second of the evening and this time it was substitute Bethany England who provided the assist as Spence guided a first-time finish into the bottom corner to make it five.
Chelsea will now prepare for an important week with a trip to Manchester City in the Barclays Women’s Super League up next for the Blues.
It will be first versus second on Wednesday evening and the clash may well determine which team puts the league title firmly in their grasp.
Emma Hayes named a much-changed side for our fourth-round clash against London City with the Chelsea manager handing youngsters Aggie Beever-Jones and Jorja Fox their first starts for the club, while Charlotte Wardlaw also came into the side for her third appearance for the Blues.
Carly Telford took her place in goal behind a back four of Hannah Blundell, central defenders Magda Eriksson and Jess Carter with Fox occupying the left back position.
Melanie Leupolz and Wardlaw lined up in front of the backline with Niamh Charles, Drew Spence, and Erin Cuthbert in attacking midfield positions behind lone striker Beever-Jones.
Zecira Musovic, Sophie Ingle, Bethany England, Jessie Fleming and Jonna Andersson were all named on the bench, with Hayes taking the opportunity to rest a host of players ahead of our fixture against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Ji So-Yun, Guro Reiten, Millie Bright and Ann-Katrin Berger were not included in the matchday squad, but the Blues were all in attendance at Kingsmeadow to show their support.
Chelsea immediately took the game to our opponents and within the opening 20 minutes the Blues had been denied by the woodwork on three occasions.
Charles hit the crossbar within the opening minute before Blundell unleashed a fierce drive which crashed against the bar.
Beever-Jones then rattled the woodwork from close-range but minutes later, the Blues finally got reward for our total dominance.
Blundell got Charles in down the right and the 21-year-old kept a cool head to slot the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper to give the Blues a 1-0 lead on 21 minutes.
Charles was involved once again as Chelsea doubled our advantage just before the half hour mark. The midfielder whipped in a corner and Carter, unmarked in the box, side-footed a volley past the keeper to score her first goal of the season.
It was three for Chelsea just moments later and this time it was Leupolz who found the back of the net with a spectacular effort from 35-yards out as the Blues took a comfortable lead into the interval.
Hayes made two changes at the break with England and Fleming replacing youngsters Beever-Jones and Wardlaw and England nearly got herself on the scoresheet five minutes into the second half.
Fox delivered an in-swinging free-kick and England was arriving at the back post, but the No.9 couldn’t direct her header on target.
Chelsea had a fourth just before the hour mark and it was Spence with her 46th career goal for the Blues.
Charles got to the by-line on the right side before delivering a low cross into the box and Spence was on hand to provide a first-time finish into the bottom corner.
The midfielder then got herself on the scoresheet again with 10 minutes remaining and it was similar to her first goal but this time it was England who provided the assist.
England worked the ball down the right and cut the ball back for Spence and she guided a low effort into the corner to complete the scoring and book our place in fifth round of the FA Cup.
Chelsea now have four days to prepare for a huge game in the race for the title before travelling travel north for our clash with Manchester City on Wednesday evening.
Hayes and her side will then head to Germany for another important fixture as we face Bayern Munich in the first leg of our Champions League semi-final next Sunday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Telford; Blundell, Carter, Eriksson (C) (Ingle 75), Fox; Leupolz, Wardlaw (Fleming 46); Charles (Andersson 77), Spence, Cuthbert; Beever-Jones (England 46)
Unused subs Musovic
Scorers Charles 21, Carter 29, Leupolz 35, Spence 56, 79
London City Lionesses (5-4-1) Yanez; Neville, Bennett (C), Priest, Short, Murphy; Primus, Agg, Nolan, Fitzgerald; Fyfe.
Unused subs Smith, Wilson, Mackie, Cowan, Kemppi, Rossiter, Balfour, Mason.
Referee Chloe Anderson