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Chelsea Ladies Weekly Roundup (04/07/16)

LEAGUE POSITION: 2nd (WSL1) FIXTURES: H v Birmingham (Sunday, 3pm) WOMPING TO VICTORY IN SUNDERLAND Last week was one of two halves ...

LEAGUE POSITION: 2nd (WSL1)
FIXTURES: H v Birmingham (Sunday, 3pm)

WOMPING TO VICTORY IN SUNDERLAND

Last week was one of two halves for the Blues, beginning with a 5-0 demolishing of Sunderland in the league.
With Hannah Blundell, Gilly Flaherty, and Fran Kirby all left out of the 11 due to injury, we took the opportunity to play a new 3-5-2 formation (as opposed to our 4-2-3-1). Bailey came into the backline for just her fourth start of the season and looked very impressive in her new position. Claire Rafferty and Ana Borges relished playing as wing-backs, the former bagging herself a brace. Gemma Davison, Millie Bright, and Ji So-Yun all added to the tally, closing the gap at the top of the table.
Gemma Davison bagged her first goal of the season at Sunderland

SHOCK CUP EXIT

The second game of the week saw us face the London Bees in the first round of the Continental (league) Cup. The Bees are a WSL2 side who we had beaten 13-0 and 8-0 in the last two seasons, but the squad that manager Emma Hayes put out could hardly be described as weakened, despite Fran Kitching (in goal) and Alessia Russo (up front) making their debuts.
Despite looking slow in possession, we took the lead through a Beth England wonder strike in the 10th minute. We continued to dominate but failed to really trouble the Bees backline, who were very confident in bringing the ball up the pitch, and their pace in behind showed, leading to the first goal (where Kitching made a great one-on-one save, only to see the ball bounce off her teammate Flaherty and in), and the sending off of Niamh Fahey, who was left with no choice but to foul the forward closing down on goal with the scores at 1-1. A similar move saw the Bees take a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes left, but substitute Bright was able to score in the dying moments to send the tie into extra time.
When England headed home her second of the day at the start of extra time, it looked like the Blues might hang on, but the relentless Bees were able to snatch a last-minute equaliser of their own, and the Blues were headed for their first penalty shootout since the FA Cup Final loss back in 2012.
Kitching made an excellent stop on the first kick, but both Carney and Ji faltered, and the Bees were able to wrap up the shootout 4-2, Davison and Flaherty the scorers for the Blues.
This was a result that game as a shock to many (well, everyone), but I personally cannot give enough credit to the Bees. They put together an excellent footballing performance that was well worthy of the win.

TAKING THE POSITIVES

There are positives to take from the game, in that we won’t have to experience the same fixture congestion as the other teams left in the competition, so we can turn our focus solely onto retaining our league title.
It was also great to see Fran Kitching put in an impressive performance, something which may be important come the end of July, with Hedvig Lindahl heading to the Olympics with Sweden, and the severity of Becky Spencer’s wrist injury still unknown. Jade Bailey continues to flourish in the centre back role, and Beth England ending a scoring drought dating back to the first league game of the season.
England U17 international Alessia Russo made her debut against the Bees
The last week has also seen the involvement of young Development Squad players Zoe Cross, Lois Joel, and Alessia Russo, all of whom I expect to be making ripples in the first team in the not-so distant future.

LOAN WATCH

We found out the next loan destination of forward Rosella Ayane on Thursday, as she joins Everton until the end of the season. This is her third loan spell since 2015, having also spent time at Millwall and Bristol City. She made her debut in Everton’s 1-0 loss against Liverpool in the cup on Saturday.
Laura Coombs started for Liverpool against Ayane in that game.
There was plenty of other Loan Watch action, as both Bristol City and Oxford United played two games this week.
On Tuesday Bristol travelled to Villa in the league. Jodie Brett opened the scoring in the 70th minute, but a crazy last 20 minutes ensued, and City were only able to come away with a point in a 2-2 draw. Brett dropped to the bench on Saturday and Millie Farrow returned to the starting lineup, but they lost 2-0 to Sheffield in the cup.
Oxford United outdid themselves to earn a 2-2 draw against league leaders Yeovil on Thursday, before putting in an admirable display but eventually falling 2-0 to WSL1 Birmingham City in the cup on Sunday. Laura Rafferty played 90 minutes in both matches. Fellow loanee Jenna Legg is yet to make her debut for the Us, but hopes to return from her injury in time to face the Bees this coming Sunday.

LOOKING FORWARD

The Blues’ next game is against Birmingham City at home in the league this Sunday, a 3pm kick-off at Wheatsheaf Park. The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport.
Birmingham are an interesting side having only scored four goals so far this season, but their ability to defend has seen them only concede four as well, and they are currently sitting in third, although there is a six point gap between them and us.
Having watched them against Sunday against Oxford, you can see that Birmingham are a very capable side in possession, and are well organised, but sometimes lack the firepower to turn possession into chances (much like Chelsea). New signing, Norweigan international Andrine Hegerberg, looked very impressive, and will certainly be one to look out.

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