Bethany England and Maren Mjelde bagged a brace apiece as we recorded our biggest victory of the season with an eight-goal drubbing of the Hammers.
After smashing four goals past Arsenal in our most recent Barclays Women’s Super League fixture, we were once again in irresistible form going forward and there was little West Ham could do to stem the tide of Chelsea attacks, which were relentless from virtually the first minute.
We took the lead after only seven minutes when Mjelde, having scored the winner against Man United in midweek, showed her goalscoring prowess once again with a classy finish on the half-volley.
That lead was doubled soon after by England, who continued her wonderful run in front of goal to score in the seventh WSL game on the bounce, taking advantage of a lovely pass by Erin Cuthbert to round the keeper and slot home.
By half-time we were three goals to the good, this time courtesy of a Sophie Ingle header. Having beaten West Ham 2-0 in the Continental League Cup in September and 3-1 at Rush Green in October, we were well on the way to improving on those scorelines with 45 minutes still to play.
We went four goals up early in the second half, as Cuthbert smashed home a stunning left-footed strike from outside the box – and we continued to push for more goals, with the Hammers defence in disarray.
Two more arrived in the space of five minutes either side of the hour-mark, as England and Mjelde both added their second of the game with simple finishes that the West Ham defence will no doubt look back on several times in training next week.
Late goals from Ramona Bachmann – who opened her account for the season – and Emily Murphy, both of whom had come off the bench, added further gloss to an afternoon which could hardly have gone much better for the Blues.
We’ve now won all four of our WSL matches so far in 2020 and with Manchester City winning against Arsenal in Nick Cushing’s last game as manager, they hold a one-point advantage over us at the top of the standings, although we’ve got a game in hand.
The Blues are in action again next Sunday against Manchester United and we then host Birmingham City at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday 12 February.
Following the midweek win at Manchester United to seal our spot in the Continental League Cup final, Emma Hayes made no changes to her line-up, which meant she’d kept faith with the same XI for the first time this season.
Carly Telford retained her spot in goal, playing behind Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson and Jonna Andersson. Our match-winner from Wednesday night, Mjelde, once again lined up on the right-hand side of a midfield four which also featured Drew Spence, Ingle and Guro Reiten. The central attacking threat would come from England, who came into the game having scored eight of her 15 goals this term against London sides, and Cuthbert.
It took only seven minutes for the Blues to make the breakthrough and after her heroics in midweek, it was Mjelde who popped up with another vital goal. Reiten’s corner was nodded back into danger zone by Bright and Eriksson kept the play alive by showing more aggression than Grace Fisk to win the decisive headed duel, with the ball dropping kindly for our No.18 to fire home on the half-volley with the outside of her right boot.
Five minutes later we had doubled our lead, this time through England’s 11th WSL strike of the season. The pass from Cuthbert to send her through on goal was as pin-point as they come and keeper Courtney Brosnan’s cause wasn’t helped as she slipped when rushing off her line. That was all the encouragement England needed to knock the ball around her before tapping into an empty net. Just as at Arsenal in our previous league game, we had started at a pace that our opponents simply could not live with.
It should have been three before a quarter of an hour was on the clock, as once again we carved the through the West Ham defence with ease to create a clear-cut opportunity. This time it was England who was the provider, sending a low ball across the box for Reiten to dink it over the goalkeeper. Alas, former Blues midfielder Kate Longhurst had spotted the danger and got back to clear off the line and keep West Ham in the contest.
Although the Hammers had a shout for a penalty turned down – and it looked like a speculative one at that, as Bright challenged Alisha Lehmann and appeared too strong for her opponent – there was very little coming back at our defence as we continued to look the most likely side to score next.
Both England and Reiten were desperately close to getting on the end of teasing crosses with diving headers and we were seeing plenty of the ball in West Ham’s defensive third, as our attacking players were given too much time and space to run at their markers. Another chance fell to Mjelde in the closing stages of the half, forcing Brosnan into her best save of the match, but from the resulting corner we extended our lead.
Ingle was the goalscorer for the second WSL game in succession and it was as simple as they come. Reiten’s corner had enough whip and dip on it so that the Welsh midfielder’s perfectly timed run required just the slightest of touches to send it past the keeper and into the far corner. Three goals was the least our performance had merited.
The second half began with Spence thinking she’d made it 4-0 after steering home a pass from England, only for the assistant referee’s flag to go up for offside, and then we should have legitimately added a fourth when our No.15 was the provider once more, teeing up Andersson for a first-time finish from a great position. Alas, the Swedish left-back fired straight at the goalkeeper.
West Ham clearly didn’t heed the warning signs, as we put the game out of reach with only 52 minutes on the clock – and this was perhaps the pick of the bunch. Everyone inside the stadium was expecting a flag to be raised when a Spence pass up field found Cuthbert with only Fisk standing between her and the goalkeeper. A deft touch inside her marker left the Scot with an opportunity to let fly with her left foot and she fired a rasping half-volley past the outstretched dive of Brosnan. Hammers boss Matt Beard, once of this parish, was subsequently booked by referee Amy Fearn for taking his protests too far.
West Ham were in complete disarray by this point. First, England was sent through following a deflection off a defender, only to pull her finish wide of the post, and then the subsequent goal-kick was gifted straight to Spence, who won a corner. Cuthbert stepped up to take it and swung it to the far post, where England climbed above her marker to make it 5-0.
The response from Beard was to make a triple change on the hour-mark, but it was the same old story for his side in the defensive third. Again, it was far too easy for Andersson to smash a low cross into the middle, but this time it should have been bread and butter for Brosnan. The Hammers keeper was far too tentative, though, allowing Mjelde to nip in with a sliding finish.
The keeper went some way to making up for that error by pulling off an outstanding save to deny Cuthbert, who was enjoying perhaps her best performance of the season, and then Hayes gave a breather to Ingle and Reiten, which allowed Ramona Bachmann and Jess Carter to come on for the final 20 minutes. Emily Murphy was also introduced soon after in place of England, who received a standing ovation after another fantastic performance.
One of the subs, Bachmann, almost made an impact as she was sent through on goal, only to be denied by the keeper and she then sent a left-footed shot the wrong side of the post having created the opening for herself with a wonderful feint and turn inside the box. Finally, at the third time of asking she got her reward – and the roar from the crowd showed just how much the supporters love her.
It was a goal which summed up West Ham’s defensive display, as Carter’s weak cross went straight through a defender and into the path of Bachmann, who had time and space to shift it onto her right foot and smash home her first of the season. The Hammers were equally hapless when they allowed Murphy to power in a header with virtually the last touch of the game – as good as we had been in an attacking sense, their defensive efforts left a lot to be desired.
Our biggest win of the campaign was in the bag and our goal difference is now vastly superior to our main rivals in a title race which threatens to go all the way. It had been an excellent afternoon for those of a Blues persuasion.
After next Sunday’s trip to Manchester United we’re back at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday 12 February when Birmingham City, who we beat 6-0 in the Midlands back in November, travel to KT1. Click here to buy your tickets now!
Chelsea (4-4-2) Telford; Blundell, Bright, Eriksson (c), Andersson; Mjelde, Ingle (Carter 67), Spence, Reiten (Bachmann 67); England (Murphy 78), CuthbertUnused subs Berger, Cooper, Wardlaw, NapierScorers Mjelde 7, 61, England 12, 56, Ingle 45, Cuthbert 52, Bachmann 88, Murphy 90+1
West Ham United (3-5-2) Earps; Fisk, Flaherty, Vetterlein; Kvamme, Dali, Longhurst (Middag 60), Simic (Galabadaarachchi 60), Baunach; Kiernan (De Graaf 60), LehmannUnused subs Moorhouse, Wallen, Littlejohn, SmithBooked Flaherty 26, Longhurst 49, Beard (manager) 54
Referee Amy Fearn