WSL 1 week 17 review: Chelsea wrap up title with a game to spare

Race for second to go down to the wire as Chelsea wrap up the title.

Extending their unbeaten run, Chelsea regained their WSL title with wins over Birmingham City and Bristol City as Arsenal opened up the race for second with a win over Manchester City after the Citizens had also lost to Liverpool.

The Reds unable to carry their midweek form through as they lost to the Royals and Birmingham won away to Everton by the same margin and the Vixens came out on top of the west country derby in Taunton.

Zipping through the last of their games in hand City hit Yeovil for five whilst the Gunners eased past Sunderland.

Yeovil Town 0-2 Bristol City

Having struck the underside of the bar twice in the first half, the Vixens found more joy after the break, finding a way past their west country rivals.

Lauren Hemp’s looping corner enough to best Megan Walsh just after the hour, the ball allowed to crest over the box before dropping just under the bar.

Pushing forward with the advantage, Bristol opened up the gap when Millie Farrow picked out Yana Daniëls, the Belgian international curling her shot in off of the far post.

Reading 3-0 Liverpool

Fresh off of their win against City, Liverpool were left humbled at the Madejski Stadium having been it for three by a Royals team going big guns.

A superb goal from Brooke Chaplen wrenched the scores open just five minutes into the game, her gambit from 25-yards soaring over Siobhan Chamberlain before slamming into the back of the net. The former Sunderland woman involved again fifteen minutes from time to pounce on Amy Turner’s weak pass to double the advantage.

On top from the off, the Royals found a third goal late in the day when Gemma Bonner’s header was intercepted by Lauren Bruton.

With Chamberlain pulled out of her goal, Bruton nudged the ball past the ‘keeper with her thigh before rolling it into the unguarded net to keep Reading’s chances of finishing in the top two alive.

Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland

In a match that left both sides battered and bruised, the Blues edged a stubborn Sunderland team to move to within one point of the title.

Standing up well to the pressure over the first half, Rachael Laws finally succumbed when Fran Kirby scooped the ball over the ‘keeper from six-yards just before the break.

The advantage doubled by Eni Aluko ten minutes into the second half, Jonna Andersson’s ball in turned home with the outside of Aluko’s boot to leave the visitors with it all to do.

Growing into the game but all too late, the Lady Black Cats managed to claw a goal back, Lucy Staniforth’s slipped pass through to Kiera Ramshaw sent home via the left-hand upright. But with four minutes left on the clock, the goal was as mere conciliation for the visitors, the Blues marching on to another victory.

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City

Looking for an instant response to a surprise loss away to Liverpool last time out that gifted Chelsea an in at the top of the table, City started strongly in London, dictating the first half.

A poor give away in midfield by Dominique Janssen gifted the Citizens the first goal when Georgia Stanway stole the ball away before charging through the middle of the pitch before laying the ball off to Nadia Nadim to stroke home.

On top until the break, the visitors failed to extend their advantage and let the hosts back in after the change of ends, the Gunners a team brimming with confidence as they ran the show.

Another poor give away leading to the second goal, this time the hosts benefiting as Jordan Nobbs played in Daniëlle van de Donk for the Dutch international to find the bottom corner. Asking all the questions the hosts soon had a second, Beth Mead’s clinical finish from a tightening angle doing enough to sink the Citizen’s title chances.

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Everton 0-3 Birmingham City

Dealt a blow with a last-minute winner last time out, Birmingham showed no signs of frustration when they took to the pitch against Everton, the visitors easing to a win in the north-west.

Charlie Wellings’ audacious effort from 20-yards scooped over Kirstie Levell and dropping in just under the bar to give the Blues the lead 20 minutes in. Wellings was involved again just before the hour to double the lead with a swept effort that Levell failed to deal with.

The match rounded off five minutes from time by Ellen White, the in-form striker’s belter from 30-yards flying into the top right corner.

Finishing the season strongly, Birmingham have already seen their chance of finishing in a European position just slip away but look to be laying down firm foundations for next season, Everton still a work in progress.

Bristol City 0-2 Chelsea

With Farrow having been gifted an early chance that the young attacker could only put wide, the hosts amped up the pressure, putting their first real chance away, Drew Spence’s stooped header enough to get the better of Sophie Baggaley.

Still seeing chances in the match, the hosts continued to trouble the visiting defence but without the required punch to really trouble Hedvig Lindahl, they remained a foot behind until the break.

A half-time shake-up saw the visitors reduce the chances at the back for the Vixens, the hosts still unable to capitalise when in though with time fast ticking down and the Blues all but assured of lifting the title.

Pressing the home defence for swathes of the match, Chelsea finally had a second goal late in the day when nippy work from Kirby saw the attacker slot the ball through the box for Andersson to slice into the waiting net.

Manchester City 5-0 Yeovil Town

Kept quiet for the majority of the first half, the hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time through bright-spark Claire Emslie when the young Scot unleashed a curler to the top corner to beat Walsh.

With the majority of the team not at the races before the break, the Citizens come out firing for the second half, their lead fast doubled by Nikita Parris who was on hand to slot Emslie’s cross home.

Having upped the pace with their opposition losing ground fast, the hosts found a third, Parris with the close-range finish once more to keep their noses ahead of Arsenal, their goal difference far superior.

The Citizens finishing the match with a flourish as Parris rounded off her hattrick, picking up Esme Morgan’s through ball to take it around Walsh before slotting home.

With the Lady Glovers unable to live with Parris playing through the middle, the attacker drew a foul in the box to give the hosts a chance to further their advantage, Izzy Christiansen clinical as ever from 12-yards. Looking for a sixth until the death, Walsh came up trumps to deny both Parris and Christiansen clear goal scoring opportunities before the whilst.

Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal

Chasing down City in second, Arsenal wasted no time in the northeast, the visitors a goal to the good less than ten minutes in when Kim Little’s effort took a deflection to beat Laws.

Keeping up the rich tradition of players scoring against their former clubs, Mead doubled the advantage for the Gunners turning Katie McCabe’s low cross in at the back-stick half an hour in.

Asking questions but unable to further their advantage whilst keeping the hosts out, the two goals were enough for Arsenal to keep within one point of City and push the race for second to the last day of the season.

WSL 1 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)
WSL 1 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)