The Blues move back to the top of the WSL thanks to a goal from Maiko Hamano in our penultimate game of the season.

Hamano gave her side a thoroughly deserved half-time lead when she converted a Niamh Charles cross for the second goal of her Chelsea career.

There was pace and flow to our first-half performance on Wednesday night at Leyton Orient’s ground, and there had been saves from Catarina Macario, Aggie Beever-Jones and Erin Cuthbert, and Guro Reiten had also gone close before the goal, but we needed to show grit too after the interval when Tottenham rallied.

Spurs forced one save from Zecira Musovic but our defence held firm and Fran Kirby, only just on the pitch, could have doubled the advantage had she kept her shot down. In the end one goal was enough for the crucial three points.

Our lead in the table is on goal difference. We are two goals better off than Manchester City going into the weekend’s final round of fixtures when we travel to Manchester United and City to Aston Villa.

Five league championships in a row to mark farewell to Emma Hayes remains very much the target.

Strikers soon test Spurs

The Blues came into this game with a 100 per cent record in our WSL meetings with Spurs, knowing only another win would do in this season’s ultra-tight title race.

Hayes rewarded the majority of those who had begun the big 8-0 win over Bristol City last time out with another start. There were just three changes made.

One of the players brought in, Macario, warmed the hands of Spurs goalie Barbora Votikova inside the first two minutes. Paired upfront with Beever-Jones, the American international was the player dropping deeper when one of them was required to do so, and her mobility caused our opponents problems throughout.

Beever-Jones had an early shot saved as well, and then slipped when threatening to break through the Tottenham backline. We also had a handball penalty claim turned down when a deflected Hamano shot was blocked by Luana Buhler’s arm. The officials decided it was sufficiently down by her side.

Our Japan international had the best chance to open the scoring so far when her diving header sent a Charles cross over the bar, so the game reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark goalless.

Cuthbert, who needs no second invitation to try from distance, forced Votikova to spill the ball as the Blues continued to rack up the number of efforts on goal as Tottenham, the beaten FA Cup finalists in their most recent game, awaited their first shot.

The best move of the game so far ended up with Amy James-Turner keeping out Reiten’s goal-bound effort with a goal-line clearance.

Pressure pays off

Chelsea were finding space to attack with regularity down our left and another move via that route resulted in another on-target attempt, this time Macario seeing her shot saved.

So well were we moving the ball that the opening goal seemed inevitable. The overlapping Charles had been a thorn in the Tottenham side and when another of her crosses was not cut out in the middle, Hamano at the back post stretched with her marker Amanda Nilden and sent the ball into the net in front of the soon-celebrating Chelsea fans. 1-0 with 37 minutes played.

Contest becomes tougher

Spurs started the second half sharper than their earlier showing. It needed a save amongst a crowd from Musovic to keep out Bulher’s drive after one of a series of corners.

Although the Blues began to steady the ship after that, our attacking play had dulled and there was no surprise when Hayes made three changes for the final 20 minutes of the game.

It was one of those who started the match, Cuthbert, who put Chelsea on the front foot again with a driving run into the box, while the outstanding pace of substitute Johanna Rytting Kaneryd threatened to open up Tottenham.

Another player off the bench later on, Kirby, had the best chance of the second half inside the final 10 minutes but when Cuthbert’s cross bounced up, the club’s leading scorer skied her shot over the bar.

There were sighs of relief from the Chelsea fans before the end when Grace Clinton’s shot went close but ended up amongst them. The final whistle sealed the double over Spurs this season and set the weekend up very nicely.

What it means

It is all going down to the final day but Chelsea are in pole position, knowing that to be crowned champions, we need to match Manchester City’s result at Aston Villa when we take on Manchester United away.

Tonight’s result also means we are guaranteed at least second place and therefore qualification for next season’s Champions League second round is assured.

What’s next?

The big decider, the final game of the season, and the last with Emma Hayes in charge, is at Old Trafford on Saturday with a 3pm kick-off.

Chelsea Musovic; Lawrence (Carter 71) , Bright (c), Bjorn, Charles; Cuthbert, Leupolz; Hamano (Rytting Kaneryd 71), Macario (Nusken 71), Reiten (Kirby 80); Beever-Jones (James 80)
Unused subs Hampton, Buchanan, Mjelde, Ingle
Scorer Hamano 37
Carter 90+4

Tottenham Votikova; Neville, James-Turner, Buhler, Nilden (Grant 45+3); Summanen, Clinton, Spence (Graham 82); Bizet (Vinberg 66), Naz (Thomas 66), England (c)
Unused subs Heeps, Ahtinen, Petzelberger, Wang, Ayane

Referee Emily Heaslip