BY PAUL LAGAN
Bethany England hit a brace as the Blues dispatched their South London rivals Crystal Palace 4-0 in this afternoon’s Continental Tyres Cup Group One South match at Bromley FC.
As expected there was a massive gulf in class between the two sides, the visitors dominated possession from the kick-off and for 90 minutes were almost permanently camped in the the Eagles half.
While this led to a degree of complacency from the visitors, the home side must be given some credit in their desire to hinder their illustrious opponents at every opportunity.
But perhaps understandably the first goal was not long in coming, and Adelina Engman slotted home from just inside the home side’s penalty area after 10 minutes following a simple pass from Beth England, who had opened up the Eagles defence.
Erin Cuthbert was next to have an effort, but her low left footer was well saved by Megan Lynch in goal on 17 minutes.
Beth England, on 30 minutes, was inches away from latching onto a defence-splitting pass from Maria Thorisdottir, but she was a tad too late.
With only one goal lead, the Blues were always subject to the quick breakaway and debutant goalkeeper Lizzie Durack duly earned the plaudits by thwarting a blaster by live-wire Chloe Burr on 32 minutes, parrying away the right-footed effort.
An overhead kick by England should have doubled the lead with seven minutes of the half remaining but the effort went wide of goal.
Fran Kirby, desperate to notch up her 50th goal for the Blues should have done just that on the half-time whistle but she somehow conspired to shoot just wide of the goal.
There were no changes at half-time by either side.
A stunning left-footed blaster by Cuthbert on 55 minutes forced Lynch into a spectacular diving save to her left to tip the ball away from the goal.
Ten minutes into the half and Kirby, while not enjoying much luck in front of goal herself, produced the pass of the day by cutting the Palace defence in half with a neat, clipped curler into the path of England, on the left. She took one touch before slotting home the ball past the luckless Lynch to double the score. Kirby was at it again, five minutes later, slide-ruling the inch-perfect reverse pass to in-running Drew Spence, who neatly tucked the ball home for number three.
Emma Hayes first sub saw Jonna Andersson come on for Thorisdottir
Then within 30 seconds, Kirby had her third assist, latching on to a long ball by Deanna Copper, she back-heeled the ball to England who smashed it home.
Ramona Bachmann then entered the fray at the expense of Cuthbert. England was them replaced by Hannah Blundell.
The game was all but over and the Blues ran out deserved winners.
CP: Lynch, McRoberts, Collins, Butler, Holdaway (C), Mackenzie, Nash, Nuttall, Haydock, Burr, Hincks
Sus: Davenport, Keogh, Watling, Georgiou, Chong, Salgado (GK), Chandler
Chelsea: Durack, Thorisdottir, Ingle, Carter, Kirby, England, Engman, Cooper, Cuthbert, Spence, Bailey
Subs: Telford, Eriksson, Blundell, Bright, Andersson, Ji, Bachmann
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