Report: Blues Women 0 Chelsea Women 6
RUTHLESS Chelsea picked off a spirited Blues side 6-0 having notched goals at key times in each half.
The visitors struck within two minutes of kick-off and three minutes of the second half beginning, moving through the gears and showcasing their quality while Blues battled to fight back.
England international Lucy Staniforth returned to the starting XI but manager Marta Tejedor’s options remained limited by injury.
Academy prospect Lily Simkin, who came on at Brighton the previous week, earned her first senior start. Brianna Visalli and Freya Gregory made way.
The tone was set for a tough day at the office when Ji So Yun’s crisp, bending free-kick found the top corner despite Hannah Hampton getting a strong glove on it inside the opening two minutes.
Blues reacted well to the early blow, drifting a series of balls in behind that had the Chelsea backline turning with the hard-working Claudia Walker pressing her rivals at every opportunity.
Staniforth’s delightful spray found Abbi Grant inside the left edge of the area only for Maren Mjelde to recover, while Walker’s cross at the second attempt was snatched out of the air by Ann-Katrin Berger with Connie Scofield poised to pounce.
Mjelde pinched possession at the other end with her low daisy cutter skipping narrowly wide via a deflection moments before a game-changing second for the visitors.
A slick one-touch move over the halfway line saw Millie Bright burst through from the back to bear down one-on-one with Hampton, steering inside the near post eight minutes before the interval.
Walker again battled and thumped narrowly wide in search of an immediate response but Blues then got hit by a moment of true quality while trying to find a way back.
Bright’s raking ball from the back picked out Beth England who cushioned down with a sublime touch before slamming inside Hampton’s near post on the stroke of half-time.
Any chance to regroup was hampered when England held up on the left, nudging into the run of Drew Spence to stroke inside the near upright three minutes after the interval.
Again it was Walker carrying the fight, pulling the trigger from the right corner of the box with Berger forced to swat over having been momentarily caught off guard.
Hampton parried from point-blank range an England stab following a cutting exchange with the marauding Bright but the ball was never properly cleared and Ji’s recycled centre was headed in by Spence from six yards.
Staniforth’s swinging shot dipped late in front of Berger, proving awkward for the ex-Blues stopper, but the hosts again got punished shortly after a close call.
England timed her run on to a well-weighted ball to perfection, guiding beyond the advancing and exposed Hampton.
England cut back for Guro Reiten to scuff at Hampton, while Jonna Andersson’s drive whistled past the upright late on but Blues at least limited the damage in the final quarter of the match.
Blues: Hampton, Simkin, Scott, Holloway, Jordan, Staniforth, Whipp, Arthur, Walker, Scofield, Grant (Gregory, 68).
Unused subs: Rabjohn, Powell, Williams, Brooks (g/k).
Chelsea: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Ingle (Murphy, 78), Spence (Carter, 66), Bachmann, Ji (Blundell, 61), England, Reiten.
Unused subs: Cooper, Cuthbert, Wardlaw, Telford (g/k).
Goals: Ji 2, Bright 37, England 45+1, 63, Spence 48, 52.
Referee: Stacey Pearson.