Ladies report: Chelsea 1 Everton 0

Jonna Andersson scored on her full debut for Chelsea Ladies as we left it late to beat Everton and extend our unbeaten record in the WSL 1.

The Swedish defender powered home a precious winner as the Blues recovered from our defeat in the Continental Tyres Cup, as well as a penalty scare early in this encounter, to take all three points at Kingsmeadow and remain very much in contention in the league.

Everton displayed great energy and enthusiasm, but they were left to rue the moment in the first half when their top scorer Courtney Sweetman-Kirk missed a penalty. However, Chelsea showed our spirit and some spark from the bench in the second half to claim an important three points going into our next WSL1 fixture on Thursday against Manchester City .

This was a much-changed Chelsea line-up ahead of that huge match at Kingsmeadow. Anita Asante made her second debut at centre-back, while Andersson earned her first start for Chelsea in a new-look back four, with her compatriot Magdalena Eriksson shifting to the centre of defence and Hannah Blundell carrying out a more conventional right-back role.

Drew Spence, partnering our captain Katie Chapman in the midfield pivot, along with Erin Cuthbert, Karen Carney and Crystal Dunn further forward, came in for their first Chelsea start of 2018, while Ramona Bachmann continued to lead the line.

The visitors saw plenty of possession inside our half in the opening 20 minutes. Chloe Kelly, who recently completed a permanent move to the Merseyside club, prompted a sequence of four corners after Hedvig Lindahl managed to tip her 25-yard free-kick over the crossbar.

There followed a considerable let-off for the Blues in the 24th minute as Sweetman-Kirk caught Asante by surprise on the breakaway and she was brought down by our winter signing inside the box. The Everton forward took the penalty herself and sent Lindahl the wrong way, but her shot cannoned back off the post.

Chelsea created our best chance of the first half in the immediate aftermath of the missed spot-kick. The ball broke kindly and we surged straight up the other end, where Blundell blazed in a shot towards the near post for Lizzie Durack to palm around the goal frame.

The Blues began to build momentum as Dunn and Blundell looked to counter down the wings. Carney smashed her first shot over the bar when the former set up an inviting opportunity for the England international, and she was at the heart of the action again not long after, connecting with a low cross from Blundell to force a strong save.

Everton found more encouragement shortly before the break when Sweetman-Kirk came within inches of making amends for her earlier miss. Kelly whipped in a driven ball towards the outstretched boot of the seasoned striker and any contact would have been enough.

Both sides picked up as they left off the in the second half. The Toffees worked an opening within 60 seconds of the restart, which was simple for Lindahl to deal with, and Sweetman-Kirk tried to rocket home an overhead kick. However, the Blues soon started to bring about the majority of the problems in attacking positions.

Carney, shooting into the sunshine, had another half-chance as Chelsea launched a move from the left through Andersson and Bachmann. The latter laid the ball off neatly to our No8, but she had little time to take a shot and her effort flew wide of the target.

Dunn showed great determination to hold off two defenders and fly solo up front. The US international struck a ferocious shot at goal which Durack originally struggled to gather. Yet, we reached the hour mark with neither team having managed to find a breakthrough.

Hayes, clearly approaching the match as a must-win, made all three of our substitutions in quick succession with 25 minutes left. Fran Kirby almost made an impact immediately after entering the fray, intuitively stabbing at a loose ball from the edge of the penalty area.

All of a sudden, it was all Chelsea, as wonderful work from Ji So-Yun nearly fashioned a goal. Marking exactly four years since she arrived in west London, the South Korean attacker swapped passes with Kirby and Maren Mjelde, then skipped away from a defender and drilled a low shot which Durack was relieved to turn behind.

Our pressure finally paid off with five minutes to go when Andersson gave Chelsea a vital late lead. Dunn darted across the box towards Mjelde, who patiently waited for Kirby, and the England star brilliantly disguised a ball to the Swedish defender for an unstoppable side-footed strike.

While Andy Spence may have been happier with the performance of his players, the Blues showed that we could graft for three points despite not necessarily playing to our best.

Victory in the early kick-off shifted the onus onto Manchester City to maintain their winning streak away to fifth-placed Sunderland later that afternoon. Either way, Thursday’s meeting between the two WSL frontrunners at Kingsmeadow, with Chelsea seeking revenge for our defeat to Man City in the Continental Tyres Cup, is likely to set the pace for the title race.

The top-of-the-table encounter (KO 7pm) could be our last home fixture for seven weeks depending on events in the FA Cup. We enter the competition in the fourth round against London Bees next Sunday (2pm) as part of a double header with the development squads.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Lindahl; Blundell, Asante, Eriksson, Andersson; Chapman (c), Spence (Mjelde 64); Cuthbert, Carney (Ji 69), Dunn; Bachmann (Kirby 64)
Unused subs Telford, Thorisdottir, Aluko, Rafferty
Scorers Andersson 84
Booked Asante 24

Everton Durack, Boye-Hlorkah, Turner (c), Brougham, George, Finnigan, James, Chance (Munsterman 88), Green (Worm 90), Kelly, Sweetman-Kirk
Unused subs Levell, Bryson, Hinds

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