Champions On Cloud Nine

Chelsea 9-0 Bristol City

By Ben Gilby

The reigning Barclays FA Women’s Super League side produced a quite phenomenal display of passing, movement and finishing as they dominated a limited Bristol City side at Kingsmeadow.

Whilst Chelsea were criticised for an inability to take their chances in front of goal against both Manchester sides over the past two weekends, there is no doubt they put that right this time round.

City came into the game on the back of a 4-0 reversal to Everton last week, and their starlet Ebony Salmon could only make the bench after picking up a slight injury in training.

For Chelsea, Beth England made her first start of the season and Ann-Katrin Berger returned in goal after missing last weekend’s trip to Leigh to face Manchester United.

The West Country side were bravely set up to press high but, despite the opening ten minutes being somewhat cagey, Chelsea, attacking the Kingston Road End, were still on the front foot with Beth England firing over the bar after five minutes.

Home skipper Magda Eriksson played a beautiful cross field ball into Fran Kirby with the Lioness playing in Ji who in turn fed Melanie Leupolz, but her effort was just wide.

On the fifteen minute mark, Chelsea went ahead, although there was a slice of luck about it. Erin Cuthbert rolled a pass across the ‘D’ which was met first time by Kirby. Her shot took a bounce in front of Bristol City keeper Sophie Baggaley who could then only fumble the ball over the line.

The Blues could have doubled their lead four minutes later when a corner produced a comedy of errors inside the City penalty area. Somehow the visitors survived as Millie Bright mishit her effort.

Chelsea were now in total control and produced a patient, probing passing game that fitted their creative attackers perfectly. The pressure forced a free kick on the 27th minute after Kirby was felled by Ella Mastrantonio. Ji’s effort was saved well by Baggaley.

However, just three minutes later, it was 2-0 as Ji was played in beautifully and fouled by Charlie Wellings. Maren Mjelde stepped up and dispatched the penalty with confidence.

This was the start of four goals in ten minutes. The next one arrived on 33 minutes. Sam Kerr played in Hannah Blundell who was brought down unnecessarily by Flo Allen near the left hand corner flag with Blundell going nowhere. Cuthbert’s ball in was met with a stunning thumping header from Melanie Leupolz which was unstoppable.

Cuthbert was rewarded for her pinpoint crossing when she grabbed a goal of her own with nine minutes of the half remaining. Bright found the Scottish Terrier in the ‘D’ and in acres of space. A quick piece on control was followed by a powerful shot which Baggaley couldn’t reach.

There was still time for a further Chelsea goal before the break. Cuthbert left a free-kick on the right for Maren Mjelde. The Norwegian swung the ball in and Millie Bright ran across the front of the Bristol City defence for another free header which flew in. It was 5-0 at half-time and clearly a matter of how many more Chelsea would add in the second period.

Above: Plenty for Chelsea to celebrate this afternoon. Photo: @ChelseaFCW

Over the half-time break, City head coach Tanya Oxtoby notably shook up the way she wanted her side to defend, this time encouraging them to sit a lot deeper, and for the first twenty minutes of the second half it disrupted Chelsea’s forward flow.

It took until the 63rd minute for the hosts to fashion their next goal scoring opportunity when Erin Cuthbert’s shot was deflected for a corner on the left. The Scot took the flag kick herself and found Melanie Leupolz but Sophie Baggaley did well to hold the German’s drive.

Just two minutes later, Chelsea got the scoreboard moving again. Ji played a lovely ball out to Hannah Blundell. Her cross was juggled by Baggaley and it fell to Beth England who simply doesn’t miss from that close out.

Pernille Harder then came on and was in the action straight away. The Dane took the ball into the box and hit a low effort which Baggaley palmed across the goal for Niamh Charles to tap home her first Chelsea goal on her competitive debut.

Four minutes later Harder stamped her class well and truly on the match. Sam Kerr, Niamh Charles and Pernille Harder were afforded all the space they wanted by Bristol City. Kerr combined with Charles and the youngster found Harder who produced a sumptuous flick with her hindmost foot into the net.

Less than sixty seconds later it was almost eight when Magda Eriksson found Kerr free in the centre of the box but her powerful header came back off of the bar.

With four minutes to go, the Aussie completed the rout with a lovely strike which came after she cut inside, rounded a defender with ease and comfortably hit a shot past Baggaley.

Nine goals for Chelsea and nine different goal scorers. This was a display of the highest quality and one which will leave the Blues fans smiling for days. However, we are only in the second week of the season and already huge score lines are becoming a regular thing. The FAWSL is already one division with three separate levels of teams within it and increasingly the gap between the three sub levels is growing.

Teams: CHELSEA: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Leupolz, Cuthbert, England, Kirby, Kerr. Substitutes: Thorisdottir, Ingle (not used), Carter, Reiten (Not used), Fleming, Charles, Harder, Spence, Telford (GK – not used)

Scorers: Kirby 15, Mjelde pen 30, Leupolz 33, Cuthbert 36, Bright 40, England 65, Charles 69, Harder 73, Kerr 86.

BRISTOL CITY: Baggaley, Allen, Matthews, Evans, Purfield, Humphrey, Logarzo, Palmer, Mastrantonio, Daniels, Wellings. Substitutes: Bryson, Rafferty, Salmon, Haland (GK – not used), Bissell, Wilson (not used), Layzell (not used), Jones (not used).

Referee: Stacey Pearson.

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