Chelsea, Man City and Reading all grab healthy respective wins over Sunderland, Arsenal and Liverpool as Bristol squeeze past Yeovil and Brimingham City soundly saw off Everton.
Returning to her old stomping ground, Fara Williams cracked a shot of the season contender from 20-yards, catching the ball plumb on the volley, lofting it up into the top corner leaving England teammate, Siobhan Chamberlain with no chance. The dominant team from the off, Remi Allen took advantage of some lax defending just over ten minutes later to poke home after Chamberlain had made an initial save – the former Royal unlucky to have seen her early effort catch the woodwork.
Comfortable throughout the first-half, Reading sat back well after the break as Liverpool looked to find their rhythm, chances went begging however and with the team pushed all too high, Brooke Chaplen made it three fifteen minutes from time. The winter signing set free up the left to chase the ball, Casey Stoney and Chamberlain failing to communicate with the ‘keeper well out of her goal, it was an easy thing for Chaplen to take the ball round and wrap the three points up with style.
In what was billed to be the match of the day, City started off well against the Gunners, a high boot from Nikita Parris on Lisa Evans an early taking point at the attacker avoided consequence for catching the Scottish international millimetres under her eye.
Having the better of it in the early exchanges before the game quietened down, the Citizens took the lead five minutes before the break when Jane Ross flicked the ball home from a neat Abbie McManus cross. The goal signalled a late flurry as first, Emma Mitchell nodded home at a corner before Steph Houghton emphatically volleyed the ball home after Sari van Veenendaal had parried a routine corner, the hosts regaining the lead in first-half stoppage.
The break saw a double change for the visitors which appeared to be the shot in the arm they needed, Heather O’Reilly on hand to head the ball home with the defence out of sorts early in the second-half. Growing into the match, Arsenal were left sucker-punched when City fired in three in ten minutes, Georgia Stanway’s low effort enough to slip under van Veenendaal after being played through expertly by Jill Scott. Izzy Christiansen was next onto the scoresheet as Arsenal reshuffled looking for more attacking bite, putting Jordan Nobbs under pressure Christiansen forced the midfielder into a weak back-pass and pounced, curling the ball beyond the ‘keeper. Still not done, Jill Scott rounded off the match with an angled finish that slipped past van Veenendaal’s out-stretched gloves, capping off a miserable day for the Gunners.
Just two games into the season, the game has pointed out long-standing frailties that lie within the Arsenal team that will need to be fixed sooner rather than later if they’re to have any chance of finishing in the top two. For the Citizens it was a textbook performance that sent out a loud message to the rest of the league.
More than a little familiar with each other, the west country derby is arguably the best chances both the Vixens and Lady Glovers have of earning points this season, the spoils rather shared in their previous meetings with both benefiting from their home advantage. Keeping in the tradition, the hosts scooped all three points, the dominating side in the first-half, Bristol took the lead through Frankie Brown at a corner around the half-hour. The goal enough to separate the two at the break although it easily could have been more for the hosts, the second-half bringing about a change of fortunes as Yeovil pushed for an equaliser. Arguably should having had a penalty when Kayleigh Green was felled in the area, the Lady Glovers were left frustrated by the stubborn home defence that refused to be beaten as their rode out the storm and wintery conditions to claim their first win of the year and bragging rights in the derby.
Sunderland 0-6 Chelsea
Off to a restrained start in South Shields, Chelsea went into the break just one goal to the good after Fran Kirby had fired the Blues ahead half-way through the first-half, the home defence doing just enough, ably backed up by Anke Preuss.
Very much the team in the ascendancy it was only a matter of time before Chelsea furthered their lead, Gemma Davison the one to slice through the home defence, cutting in before firing low past the defenders that could do little to halt her. The second goal enough to open the floodgates as the goals began to pour in for the Spring Series champions, Ji So-Yun the creator, feeding Davison at the back post. It was soon four when Ji curled home from the top of the box before Erin Cuthbert added a fifth with a low shot at a corner, the rout completed seconds later by Eni Aluko, Ji the creator once again.
The win is Chelsea’s second 6-0 of the season and sees them retrain the top spot on goal difference, Sunderland’s steely defence torn wide open by the London team.
Despite a firm enough start to the game, dealing well with the home pressure, the Blue Girls were undone at a routine corner, Paige Williams’ delivery enough to cause problems. Lizzie Durrack’s punch straight at Ellen White, the striker calm to mop up and send the ball home for her third of the season. A goal to the good, the Blues started to dictate play more and more, and it wasn’t long before they doubled the advantage. A neat ball from Williams zipped over the defence and found White, the English international with the presence of mind to square it for Charlie Wellings on the far side who struck the ball low and slipped in under Durrack.
Having halved the deficit, Everton had their tails up and did well to control most of the second-half, the usually reliable Birmingham defence full of holes as the visitors pressed for an equaliser. However, time fast ran out for the Toffees, time used up across the pitch as the hosts did just enough to keep them out including a superb sliding block from Williams at the death to deny Sweetman-Kirk.
The Blues with their first win of the season, riding out the storm after dropping a point last week, but a tough lesson for the Blue Girls who easily could have had something.