Manchester City Women suffered their second defeat of the season as champions Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners at Kingsmeadow. Goals by Fran Kirby and a late penalty from Maren Mjelde secured the home side’s first three points of the season and left City with two defeats from their opening two matches.
The blues went into the match on the back of a surprise 4-3 defeat at Aston Villa on the delayed opening weekend of the season. After going 2-0 down, City came back to lead 3-2 at Villa Park, before allowing Villa back into the game. Chelsea, meanwhile, took the lead at Liverpool, before conceding two penalties to suffer their own shock loss at the hands of the WSL newcomers.
Manager Gareth Taylor made three to the side that lost last weekend, with Kerstin Casparij and Leila Ouahabi replacing Demi Stokes and Esme Morgan. Filippa Angeldahl made way as Deyna Castellanos made her first WSL start.
Chelsea kicked off and immediately went on the attack. Sam Kerr’s flick from a long ball forward found Goru Reiten in space, but her pass back was hit wide by the Australian. City were almost caught out when Steph Houghton’s attempted back pass fell to Kerr, who drew Ellie Roebuck from her goal before finding Kirby in space. The England star hit her shot, but thankfully for the blues, Laia Aleixandri was on hand to prevent the opening goal.
Lauren Hemp took advantage of some poor Chelsea defending, but her shot was parried by the keeper, much to the annoyance of Laura Coombs who was better placed. City had claims for a penalty when Bunny Shaw, who was being a nuisance for the Chelsea defence, appeared to be bundled over in the area, but the referee waved away any appeals for a spot-kick.
City were making a good account of themselves in West London, but, inevitably, it was Chelsea who took the lead. Reiten, who scored the winner when these two met here last season, flicked on a long ball and found Jessie Fleming, before storming forward, anticipating a return ball. When it came, the Norwegian star passed first time for Kirby to sweep home and send Chelsea 1-0 up. The blues almost equalised immediately. Chloe Kelly’s cross was flicked on by a Chelsea head to Coombs, whose shot was parried by Berger onto the post.
The second half saw few chances for either side. While both sides looked to attack, their was little cutting edge to their play. Berger again saved from Coombs and Lauren James curled a shot just wide of the City goal.
And with 12 minutes remaining, Chelsea would get the chance they needed to put the game to bed and continue City’s dismal WSL run against them. Sophie Ingle’s vicious shot was handled by Ouahabi and the referee pointed to the spot. Roebuck guessed the right way, but Mjelde’s precise and powerful spot-kick put the home side two clear.
The result leaves the blues in 10th place in the WSL table, just above Leicester and Reading, and the pressure will be on Taylor to produce a result when City host Leicester on 16th October.
Final score: Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City