By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 2 v West Ham United 0
It’s getting tougher to defend a WSL title as the Blues are finding out, yet somehow they still manage to grab the points required.
Sam Kerr opened her season’s account in the first half and Erin Cuthbert doubled the score late on to take the three points and remain unbeaten in the league with seven points from three games and top the table tonight.
Chelsea skipper Millie Bright almost notched up the first league goal at Kingsmeadow on three minutes following a corner, but she failed to latch onto Sam Kerr’s knock-on header and the ball was cleared.
Kerr then missed a sitter on 10 minutes following a classic run and cross by Lauren James.
The Australian striker completely misjudged the flight of the inswinger, and glanced the ball wide of Mackenzie Arnold’s right post.
West Ham’s tactic of counter-attacking, while not yielding a goal in the opening exchanges, certainly kept the Blues on their toes.
Several times the visitors broke through the Blues rear guard. Each time they failed to capitalise.
A quick turn over by Chelsea saw Kerr once again glance a header wide. This time it was an instinctive effort from a low angle.
But on 38 minutes Kerr made no mistake.
Again it was a quick turnover that involved James Fran Kirby, Melanie Leupolz and Niamh Charles, the later teeing up the Aussie striker at the far post, and this time, no glancing header – instead a classic powerful downward, across the goalie header that nestled in the back of the net.
James should have doubled the score three minutes from the break. But all credit to Arnold, who raced out, narrowed the angle and blocked the England international’s goal-bound shot.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
The away side started the more aggressively and were unlucky to see an overhead kick by Shannon Cooke bring tipped over the crossbar by Zecira Musovic on 51 minutes.
Kirby and Sophie Ingle were replaced by Erin Cuthbert and Sjoeke Nusken on 57 minutes.
After a of period sustained pressure, Chelsea almost and perhaps should have seen the doubled their lead. James was the culprit this time, sending her low right-footed drive well wide of goal.
West Ham made their first change on 65 minutes – on came Izzy Atkinson, of went Emma Harries.
Aggie Beever-Jones replaced Kerr along with James who was replaced by Jessie Fleming – both on 79 minutes.
Hawa Cissoko failed to last the distance and was taken off with a minute left suffering by what looked like cramp – on came Amber Tysiak for the Irons.
But seconds later after the centre-back going off, up popped Cuthbert to slot home from just inside the penalty area to make the game safe for the Blues.
Teams: Chelsea, Musovic, Bright, Ingle, Carter, Leupolz, James, Lawrence, Kirby, Mjelde, Kerr, Charles
Sub: Berger, Nusken, Perisset, Fleming, Rytting Kaneryd, Cuthbert ert, Buchanan, Cankovic, Beever-Jones
West Ham: Arnold, Smith, Shimizu, Evans, Ueki, Harries, Denton, Hayashi, Asseyi, Cooke, Cissoko
Subs: Walsh, Stringer, Tysiak, Atkinson, Filis, Ademiluyi, Flannery
Referee Stacey Pearson:
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