Thursday 24 March 2016

Champions Chelsea start title defence in style

Chelsea produce four-goal showing against Doncaster Rovers Belles to open defence

FA WSL 1 match
19:45, Thursday 24 March 2016
Keepmoat Stadium

Chelsea Ladies FC Goal Scorers: carney 12', England 23', CHAPMAN 43', Aluko 84'

Chelsea defender Claire Rafferty hailed her side’s performance after they completed a second win in Yorkshire against Doncaster Rovers Belles inside a week.

The defending champions won at Doncaster at the weekend in the SSE Women’s FA Cup and they followed that showing up with a second 4-1 win.

Karen Carney made it two goals in her first two games for Chelsea by converting from the spot after Leandra Little tripped Millie Bright.

Doncaster were level just four minutes later as Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s cross from the left narrowly missed Jess Sigsworth's attempted header, only for Rafferty to slice badly into her own goal.

Bethany England marked her first start for Chelsea with a goal against her former club from a Carney corner to restore the lead, and skipper Katie Chapman doubled it via the same route just before the break.

But Chelsea wrapped up a repeat result five minutes from time after Ji heeded Eniola Aluko’s shout to leave substitute Gemma Davison’s cross before the England striker curled a fourth to the bottom corner.

“I think we could have scored a few more goals but we were confident coming in,” said Rafferty. “We knew we had to wear them down a bit and we weren’t sure whether they were going to go for a low block or come out, but we’ve got some great attacking players and we proved that.

“It’s hard to play the same team twice so it’s just nice for us to get the first goal, then obviously I gave them a bit of an equaliser just to make it a bit more interesting!

“As a team we’re pleased to have two wins and an away trip out of the way.

“I feel like I’m holding the trophy and saying ‘no, I don’t want anyone to take it from us!’

“We know everyone’s going to want to beat us and in this league one loss or one draw can cost you, as we saw last season, so it’s important to get as many points as possible and win every game.

“Even the goal difference, it can come down to that, so we had that in mind coming into the game, trying to score as many goals as possible, because we know that later in the season that could be important.”

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ Courtney Sweetman-Kirk refused to be downcast despite the scoreline, she said: “I think as a side we’re obviously disappointed. You never want to lose any matches and I know they’re the champions but we still fancied ourselves, so it’s disappointing in that respect.

“But we won’t let it knock us. We’ve got a month now until the next game so we’re go back to the drawing board and see where we’re at.

“They’re champions for a reason and as Glen Harris likes to say, Chelsea are two years in the making and we’re two months.

“The Belles have always been renowned for and the gaffer made sure that the players he brought in were very aware of that and he’s bringing in not just good players but good people.

“When the game happens you forget the cameras are there. It’s great to be back in FA WSL 1 and no game’s easy but we’ve got the Chelsea games out of the way, which we’ve been focussing on very hard.

“We’ve got a good month and hopefully we can get a win on the board against Birmingham.”

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Doncaster Rovers Belles 1

Rafferty o.g. 16

Chelsea Ladies 4

Carney 12, England 23, Chapman 44, Aluko 85

Doncaster Rovers Belles (4-3-3): Nicola Hobbs; Emily Simpkins, Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little, Sophie Barker; Sam Tierney, Becky Easton, Kasia Lipka; Jess Sigsworth, Natasha Dowie, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk

Substitutes: Rachel Newborough for Tierney 72, Yasmin Mosby for Easton 86

Substitutes not used: Anna Moorhouse, Alexandra Gummer, Izzy Whittle, Tilly Hallas-Potts, Lauren Breen


Red Cards:

Chelsea Ladies (4-4-2): Hedvig Lindahl; Hannah Blundell, Niamh Fahey, Gilly Flaherty, Claire Rafferty; Karen Carney, Katie Chapman, Millie Bright, Bethany England; Eniola Aluko, Ji So-Yun

Substitutes: Gemma Davison for Carney 64, Fran Kirby for Flaherty 64, Jade Bailey for England 74

Substitutes not used: Frances Kitching, Jenna Legg, Drew Spence, Laura Rafferty

Bookings: Niamh Fahey (65)

Red Cards:

Referee: Tom Nield

Attendance: 1,165