Ladies report: Chelsea 4 Doncaster Rovers Belles 0
news Sun 24 Jul 2016
Chelsea Ladies returned to winning ways with a confident victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles courtesy of an Eniola Aluko brace and goals from Ji So-Yun and Bethany England.
Aluko's composed finish early on gave the Blues a perfect platform from which to build, although a number of chances went begging before Ji tapped in from close range midway through the second half to make the game safe. A fierce strike from Aluko and England's tidy finish added further gloss to the scoreline late on as the home side returned to the top of the FA Women's Super League 1 standings ahead of Manchester City's game against Notts County.
Having succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal last week, Emma Hayes made four changes to her starting line-up. With Hedvig Lindahl on Olympic duty with Sweden, Rebecca Spencer was drafted in between the posts. Ana Borges came in at right wing-back to replace Hannah Blundell, who dropped to the bench along with Gemma Davison, with England brought in up front against her former side. Karen Carney was also brought in to the side in place of Drew Spence in midfield.
Both sets of players wore Kick It Out T-shirts for our first-ever dedicated fixture to the work of football’s equality and inclusion organisation.
Carney's set-pieces, which caused Donny no end of bother in the previous two meetings between the sides this season, were looking the most likely route to goal for Chelsea in the opening exchanges as one free-kick caused mayhem in the box and the resulting corner eventually led to the former Birmingham midfielder curling a deflected strike off target.
However, it was a slick passing move which created the opener for Aluko. Her strike partner, England, played a perfectly weighted through-ball for the Blues No9, who timed her run to beat the offside trap and slotted home a curled finish.
The lead was almost doubled just five minutes later as the same duo combined in the attacking third; this time it was Aluko playing the pass through to England, who kept her composure to dink the ball over the keeper. On this occasion, though, it was just wide of the far post.
It was a a clear let off for the visiting side and they almost made the Blues pay when a speculative free-kick was fired low and towards the bottom corner, but Spencer was equal to it and turned the ball behind for a corner. Another effort, this time from open play and hit with finesse rather than ferocity, was well claimed by the keeper.
If England's previous finish lacked precision, her next effort was desperately unlucky and she was left wondering how her name wasn't on the scoresheet. Carney's quick thinking saw her slip a free-kick past the outside of the wall to send Ji scampering away down the right-hand side of the box and the South Korean's centre was met by England, only for a Donny defender to get a foot to it and deflect the ball against the outside of the post.
Another free-flowing move almost resulted in a second of the game for Aluko, but her finish after a move involving Raff, Ji and England was just over the crossbar. The lead remained at one going into the interval, but not before Spencer made another regulation save on the stroke of half-time.
The second half began with Chelsea looking to take the game to the visitors once again, although Hayes was forced into a change just eight minutes after the break as Claire Rafferty was unable to shake off a knock from the first half and Blundell came on in her place.
The Blues almost increased our advantage straight after the chance when Aluko tested the keeper's handling with a powerful strike from inside the box, but it wasn't long before Hayes made her second substitution of the afternoon by bringing on Davison for Jade Bailey, who had looked assured in the middle of the park, and switching back to a four-player defence.
Millie Bright was the player to move forward into midfield and one typically marauding charge into opposition territory saw her cross for England to power a header at goal, only for the wrong-footed Hobbs to produce the save of the afternoon to turn it behind for a corner.
The second goal finally arrived from the left foot of Ji, although much of the credit goes to Borges for a determined run and precise centre to leave the South Korean with the simplest of tasks from inside the six-yard box.
There were several further opportunities for the Blues to extend our advantage, two of which fell to England, who was left wondering how she hadn't found the back of the net throughout a game in which she produced arguably her best performance in a Chelsea shirt. However, a third goal wasn't far away and it was the best of the afternoon. Aluko strode forward with the ball and unleashed a thunderous strike from the edge of the box which found the back of the net via the far post.
Moments earlier, Miri Taylor had been introduced for her Chelsea Ladies debut and she was involved in the build-up for the fourth goal of a fine team performance. England, finally, got the goal she deserved, tucking home a straightforward finish from Davison's pull-back.
The Ladies are next in action at the end of August with a trip to Birmingham City.
Chelsea (3-5-2): Spencer; Fahey, Flaherty (c), Bright; Borges, Bailey (Davison 59), Carney (Taylor 82), Ji, C Rafferty (Blundell 53); England, Aluko
Unused subs: Spencer, Taylor, Cross
Goals: Aluko 13, 83, Ji 68, England 89
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Hobbs, Barker (c), Roberts, Tierney, Pacheco, Lipka (Cresswell 74), Simpkins, Omarsdottir (Bakowska-Mathews 82), Humphrey (Smith 70), Murray, Sigsworth
Unused subs: Moorhouse, Cresswell, Newborough, Mosby