Manchester City 3-3 Chelsea
by Ben Gilby.
The Barclays Women’s Super League top two could not be separated after a dramatic afternoon at the Academy Stadium.
Chelsea could have gone ahead after just twenty-five seconds when Sam Kerr’s effort came off of Ellie Roebuck’s legs and Beth England couldn’t push the follow up over the line.
Ellen White then fashioned City’s first chance after being played in by Keira Walsh, but the visitors cleared for a corner.
Chelsea had another opportunity when Jonna Andersson combined with Beth England who played in Kerr but Roebuck denied the Western Australian star.
Canadian star Janine Beckie then played in an excellent cross but Caroline Weir sent her first time volley over the bar. The Scottish international missed another chance when her header from Jill Scott’s free-kick, following a foul by Magda Eriksson, flicked wide.
The WSL’s only unbeaten side had two great chances within two minutes when Sophie Ingle combined with Guro Reiten before Millie Bright rampaged through the middle and found England. Only a diving save from Roebuck denied the Chelsea hot-shot. From the resulting corner, the City defence flapped with Demi Stokes missing her kick, almost allowing Erin Cuthbert in, but the danger was eventually cleared.
Four minutes later though, it was City who went ahead. Scott found Beckie who played in a ball which was swept into the net by Ellen White in the six yard box, off of Berger’s legs. Replays suggested there was more than a hint of offside about White’s position, but the officials were not to be moved.
In adversity, it was Chelsea who rallied and had the best of the remainder of the first half. First, a beautiful through ball flummoxed Stokes again and Kerr was in, but Roebuck denied her. Four minutes later, England scampered down the left, cut inside and shot, earning a corner.
Six minutes before half-time, Emma Hayes’ side were level when Kerr’s cross was headed clear by a City defence under pressure from Cuthbert. The clearance went straight to Ji So-yun who fired it home first time for a great finish. The scores were level at the break.
The home side had the better of the opening exchanges of the second half, but the best opportunity of the period fell Chelsea’s way on 54 minutes when Reiten played England in, but Roebuck saved. Shortly afterwards, Houghton could only clear Reiten’s cross into the path of Beth England whose shot was pushed away for a corner.
The resulting set-piece was pushed out by Roebuck to England whose first shot hit the City keeper in the face, and second attempt was parried away by the young custodian.
On the hour mark, the Sky Blues made Chelsea pay for the missed opportunities when, from Lauren Hemp’s pass, Lioness Georgia Stanway thumped in a shot which beat Berger.
Chelsea responded well and only took eight minutes to level. Erin Cuthbert’s ball found Sam Kerr whose ball was headed out for a corner. The flag kick was eventually recycled and Jonna Andersson crossed back in, Beth England flicked on to Magda Eriksson who headed home from a central position in the box.
The drama continued as, from the resulting kick-off, City mounted an attack which ended with Sophie Ingle being adjudged to have fouled Caroline Weir. However, Ann-Katrin Berger made an excellent save from Stanway’s spot kick.
With just over fifteen minutes of regular time left, Chelsea looked to have punished the home side for the miss when Ramona Bachmann, on as a sub for Guro Reiten, found England who fired in a stunner from thirty yards into the bottom left hand corner.
It was a goal that would have deserved to win any game, but within two minutes, City were right back in it when Weir played Hemp. The Norfolk born star hit a left footed shot into the net to level the scores.
Shortly afterwards, Beckie found Hemp. This time the youngster, with her back to goal found Weir, whose effort missed.
Chelsea hit back when Cuthbert found England. The striker’s cross towards Kerr was cleared by Steph Houghton for a corner. Mjelde’s flag kick found Eriksson, but the Swede’s header failed to trouble Roebuck.
The game became disjointed after two long stoppages for injury, first Gemma Bonner with an ankle problem and then Ellie Roebuck who had to be strapped up and carried from the pitch. After around twelve minutes of stoppage time, it was all over.
City remain top from the Blues by a single point, but Chelsea’s game in hand at Everton ensures that the Londoners still have the title race in their own hands.
MANCHESTER CITY: Roebuck, Bonner, Houghton, Scott, Stanway, Beckie, Hemp, White, Weir, Walsh. Subs: Benameur (GK for Roebuck), Coombs, Bremer (for White), Toland, Park, Wullaert, Fidalgo.
Scorers: White 22, Stanway 60, Hemp 76.
CHELSEA: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Ingle, Cuthbert, Ji, Reiten, England, Kerr. Subs: Telford (GK), Thorisdottir (for Ji), Carter, Blundell, Engman, Spence (for Kerr), Bachmann (for Reiten).
Scorers: Ji 39, Eriksson 68, England 74.
Referee: Rebecca Welsh.