By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 2 v Spurs 0 – Conti Cup
Erin Cuthbert’s second half thunderbolt sent Chelsea onto three precious points in the Conti Cup group match tonight against a rugged Spurs at Kingsmeadow.
German midfielder Melanie Leupolz made sure three minutes from time from the penalty spot.
But this was no stroll in the park for the experienced west Londoners. Spurs came to disrupt and showed a controlled aggression, that will eventually reap its rewards. Just not this season.
A magnificent 30-yard free-kick by Siri Worm rattled the Chelsea left upright on eight minutes as the visitors sought to unsettle their more successful London neighbours as early as possible.
The opening exchanges, generally saw half-chances created. So-Yun Ji had a curling right footer, a minute later well saved by ex-Chelsea stopper Becky Spencer.
The competitive nature of he game suggested that neither side was taking the game lightly – and that was reflected in Chelsea boss Emma Hayes’s strong starting line-up.
Pernille Harder should have buried the ball into the Spurs net on 21 minutes after excellent set-up play by Jonna Andersson on the left who sent across a deep byline drive. it was met on the head of Erin Cuthbert, who directed the ball to the feet of Harder, but she panicked and slashed the ball high over the crossbar from six yards out.
Chelsea eventually gained control of the game through their domination of the ball, as Spurs retreated further back.
But the home side struggled to pierce the resolute north London defence.
Harder tried a desperately acute angled shot on 41 minutes, but the ball was well wide of Spencer’s left post.
Spencer produced a magnificent save to thwart a Millie Bright pile-driver two minutes later as the Blues went for the jugular.
There were no changes by either side at half-time
On 56 minutes, Rosella Ayane tried an audacious 45-yard looping effort after Magdalena Eriksson was dispossessed by Rihanna Dean. Thankfully for home side, Ann-Katrin Berger was able to watch the ball take a gust of wind and saw the ball drop inches wide of goal.
Hayes had seen enough and replaced, Kerr, for Beth England, Niamh Charles, for Guro Reiten and Harder for Jessie Fleming on 59 minutes.
Spurs replaced Lucia Leon with Alanna Kennedy on 66 minutes.
Fleming’s first contribution saw her enter referee Emily Heaslip book for a late challenge on 68 minutes.
Chelsea finally broke the deadlock on 70 minutes when a Long cross field ball by Eriksson found Maren Mjelde on the right. She fed the ball to Melanie Leupolz, who tucked it onto Scotland’s Cuthbert. The forward took one touch before unleashing a venomous right-footer from 30 yards, that Spencer could only get her fingertips to, and the ball zipped into the top left hand corner of her net.
Hayes replaced Mjelde with Maria Thorisdottir with 15 minutes left on the clock as Hayes opted to shut up shop.
Berger produced an extraordinary athletic save to tip Ayane’s seemingly goal-bound effort away for a corner as Spurs pushed hard for the equaliser.
She was quickly followed by Ingle replacing Ji.
Cuthbert then saw Spencer kick away her shot close to the post for a corner.
Ayane’s night ended on 82 minutes, she was replaced by Lucy Quinn, Rihanna Dean then came on for ex-Blue Gemma Davison.
The three points were assured six minutes from time when Ingle’s shot was handled by Kerry Harrop and up stepped Leupolz to slot the ball home. Spencer dived the right way, to her right, and got a hand to the ball, but couldn’t keep it out of her net.
Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Leupolz, Ji, Eriksson, Mjelde Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder, Andersson
Subs: Thorisdottir, Ingle, Carter, England, Reiten, Fleming, Orman
Spurs: Spencer, Leon, Zadorsky, Green, Harrop, Dean, Percival, Addison, Worm, Ayane, Neville
Subs: Whitehouse, Davison, Kennedy, Quinn, Godfrey, Sulola
Referee Emily Heaslip
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