Midweek WSL 1 action was on the menu as Chelsea and Sunderland both came from behind to beat Notts County and Doncaster Belles respectively, with Liverpool claiming all three points late in the day against Reading.
Captain Fantastic – Chelsea 2-1 Notts County
With Chelsea still in the title race many were left shocked at half-time as the Blues trudged down the tunnel, held by County, the visitors with more than enough chances to have taken the lead if not for some brilliant work from Rebecca Spencer. Notts at the best in the first-half but unable to capitalise, with their title chances slipping Chelsea fired out of the blocks for the second-half.
The pressure paid off when Gemma Davison was brought down by Megan Walsh in the box, but the home crowd were left frustrated when Walsh atoned for her error and kept Davison’s penalty out. When Jo Potter fired the Lady Pies in front with a fine effort from distance it looked as if Chelsea’s title hopes were all but gone but seconds after conceding, Chelsea restored parity.
Keen to get right back onto the front foot, the Blues had won a quick-fire corner, Katie Chapman’s bullet-headed giving something for the home fans to cheer. To keep pace with City, Chelsea knew they needed a draw and with all the attacking talent on the pitch, it was Chapman who came up trumps again with another close-range header that neither Walsh nor her defence could do anything about. Notts continued to attack with real desire but couldn’t get the best of Spencer for a second time, the keeper with a MotM worthy performance.
Black Cats hit Belles for four – Doncaster Belles 1-4 Sunderland
Sunderland were left stunned as the Belles flew out of the blocks and began to stamp their authority on the game from early on. Fifteen minutes in Liverpool loanee Maz Pacheco tapped home as the ball ricocheted off the post and into her path, leading in a league fixture for only the second time this year, the Belles were cruising until Victoria Williams’ shot squirmed under Nicola Hobbs and in.
Just like against Birmingham earlier in the year, the Belles conceded a quick second as Abby Holmes fired the ball past Hobbs to leave the hosts trailing at the half. With the hosts rocking the Lady Black Cats to command of the second-half, Beth Mead instrumental in everything positive her side were doing. The tricky attacker saw her penalty saved by Hobbs but it mattered not as Kelly McDougall headed home the resulting corner before Madelaine Hill made it for with a low strike into the bottom corner.
Once again the performance from the Belles wasn’t particularly bad, the team consistently improving but still making silly errors that others are quick to punish. The result sees Sunderland leap-frog Reading into seventh and time fast running out for the Belles.
In their second meeting of the year Reading were determined to get off to a strong start after being frustrated in Widnes. But the story was not a new one for the Royals as they were pinned back and forced to defend resolutely against the an always-improving Liverpool team.
Dangerous going forward, the hosts were consistently thwarted by Siobhan Chamberlain, the veteran keeper the third of the night to save a spot kick to deny Lauren Bruton an opening goal. With the game grinding towards half-time and another draw on the cards, the hosts were denied a point when substitute Katie Zelem rifled a shot past Mary Earps from outside the area, three minutes from time. Liverpool up to fourth and unbeaten in their last eight league outings as the Royals drop to one from bottom.