Early chances, no goals
In a match with a result as predictable as a coin-toss, the hosts needed ten minutes to find their feet as City looked for an early goal. Although they had been keeping Millie Bright and Jess Carter busy on the right, the visitors started to feel the pressure as the Blues began to thread passes through their midfield. The first real chance of the game falling to Fran Kirby, the quick-footed attacker’s effort pushed into Erin Cuthbert’s path by Karen Bardsley but the Scottish international only able to chip the ball over the bar from close-range.
Exchanging blows for the majority of the first half, the crowd came to life just before the half hour when Cuthbert acrobatically met the ball sideways on in the air, the attacker denied a stunning goal by Bardsley’s left paw. The host still left looking for the opener five minutes before the break when Beth England got in at the near-post, the striker only able to nod Ali Riley’s pinpoint cross across the face of goal and out.
Not enjoying the best first half in front of goal, the Citizens blasted out of the blocks after the break, Nikita Parris’ light footwork too much for Deanna Cooper to deal with. The centre back sliding in on the striker at the start of the second half giving away a sloppy penalty, one that Parris fired into the top left corner and beyond Hedvig Lindahl.
The second half far cagier after the goal, City seeing more of the ball and chances but Chelsea a persistent threat. However the Blues left themselves too thin at the back, the hosts caught on the counter as Parris chased behind the defence, going alone before slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.
A huge presence in the Chelsea defence, Bright refused to lose a first ball all night, the centre back making more than a few sliding tackles, the captain timing each to perfection. Paired at the back with Magda Eriksson, who like her counterpart won almost all she went for the two were easily the best players for the home side. On the other side of the coin, Parris along with Demi Stokes shone down the wings for the visitors, both with pace to burn and a hunger to get at their opposition.
See you soon
There is precious little time between the full-time whistle in Kingston and the kick-off one at the CFA on Sunday when the same two teams will clash in the league. With six points between them, City at the top of the table and Chelsea in third, both will be glad to have avoided extra time tonight, the league and Champions League berths very much the bigger fish yet to be fried.
For Chelsea, their hunt for the league cup continues, the team yet to reach the final will have to hope their luck is better next season. For City it will be their fourth appearance in five seasons and whether it will be a Manchester derby with United or a rerun of last year’s final will Arsenal will be decided tomorrow.