Chelsea remain top of the WSL 1 table after securing a hard fought victory against Everton at Rossett Park.
The hosts got off to the worst possible start when Ramona Bachmann’s left wing free kick was met by a near post header from Swedish defender Magdalena Eriksson after just 12 minutes.
Eriksson then made a valuable contribution at the other end, blocking a goal bound effort from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.
But that was as good as it got for Everton who were further inconvenienced when defender Georgia Brougham limped off with a knee injury.
Chelsea finished the half strongly with Eniola Aluko beginning to assert her authority and it was the England international who almost doubled the visitor’s lead when her strong shot was beaten away by an acrobatic Kirstie Levell.
After the break, Chelsea continued to press for a second with Millie Bright hitting the side netting following a deep cross from Jonna Andersson and Fran Kirby going close with an effort from the edge of the box.
At the other end Sweetman-Kirk threatened with a sharp turn and shot and Danielle Turner was a constant menace down the left.
However, it took until the 87th minute for the hosts to carve out a clear opportunity when James’ delightful chip cannoned off the bar leaving Chelsea’s back three to celebrate a confidence-boosting clean sheet.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Everton’s Angharad James said: “We are massively disappointed with that result and I think we could have got at them a bit more.
“We played into their hands because we kept hitting it long but when we got it down and played we looked good and we should have done that more.
“I thought my shot was in at the end – there were just five minutes left and I thought I’d have a go and I was gutted to see it not go in. We need to get more shots off.”
Chelsea’s Magdalena Eriksson said: “I’m so happy to score because it doesn’t happen often and it was a really important goal because it gave us some security and allowed us to play for that result.
“I used to stay behind after practice when I was younger and train on set pieces so it’s paying off now which is good.
“It was super important to get that early goal but we can’t relax. We knew it would be a tough game and be hard to play the way we wanted to play and that was what we prepared for.”
Georgia Stanway bagged a double as Manchester City got back to winning ways with a comfortable win over Sunderland in front of a crowd of 943.
It was a story of wastefulness for the hosts after Stanway’s ferocious strike early on set the tone for a game that Nick Cushing’s side largely dominated.
Stanway’s effort that found its way in off the post came at the end of a sweeping move but was about as good as it got during a tepid first half.
Jill Scott did have a big chance to double to score soon after the goal but she was thwarted by Rachael Laws when clean through on goal.
Sunderland’s best chance came through a Lucy Staniforth free-kick which Ellie Roebuck could only parry, the young goalkeeper had Steph Houghton to thank for a last second clearance.
Substitute Claire Emslie missed several chances to wrap the game up and Nikita Parris was herself denied by a great save from Laws who turned her goal-bound effort onto the post.
Stanway eventually wrapped things up with just a couple of minutes to go with one her trademark attempts from outside the box, this one via a heavy deflection.
There was a late blow for City as captain Steph Houghton hobbled off the pitch as the game moved into stoppage time before Nadia Nadim added a third for the hosts at the death, volleying home a cross.
WHAT THEY SAID
Manchester City boss Nick Cushing on his side’s wastefulness in victory:
“I’d have been frustrated if at 1-0 we’d have conceded a counter attack or a set-piece but we know where this team needs to improve.
“It’s a young team, we knew last year where we needed to improve and that was in scoring goals. We create a lot of chances and a lot of good, offensive movements and we get counter attacks because we draw teams onto us, we know we need to turn those moments into goals.
“It ended 3-0 but it could have been more. I’m pleased with the performance because we pride ourselves on controlling the game and dominating the ball and that’s what we did tonight.”
Sunderland head coach Melanie Copeland found the positives in her side’s performance against the defending FA WSL champions:
“We were in the game, that’s the most important thing for us and you’ve always got to believe you’ve got a chance and the most disappointing thing is we sort of collapsed in the last ten minutes of the game.
“3-0 looks bad on us. 1-0 is still a defeat but there’s more small successes from that result but our game management towards the end of the match had to be a lot better.”
Skipper Kim Little’s stunning early strike set Arsenal on the way to a confident win over high-flying Reading at Boreham Wood FC.
Miedema should have doubled the lead on 25 minutes, after Danielle van de Donk put her clean through, but Mary Earps saved.
Reading were rocking and Dominique Janssen nodded home Jordan Nobbs’ right-wing corner on 27 minutes.
Rachel Rowe fired a long-range effort over the crossbar and Lauren Bruton fizzed a cross beyond onrushing teammates but the half belonged to Arsenal with Little the standout player on show.
Williams fired back for Reading and went close to equalising with a cross-shot but Van de Donk hit Arsenal’s third to ease any home concerns of a comeback.
WHAT THEY SAID
Arsenal coach Joe Montemurro: “The start was good, we found gaps and opportunities, and probably could have finished the game off in the first 20 minutes.
“But Reading are a very good team and are always going to pose problems. They have good players and a good structure.
“We gave the ball away cheaply for the corner when Williams scored but no one has cut us open as regards their ability to play through us.
“That’s always pleasing but it’s also disappointing to let goals in.”
Reading coach Kelly Chambers: “We lost the game in the first half-hour.
“We were slow to start but the last 15 minutes we created a lot of chances and had them pinned back in their own half.
“We were loose in possession today and haven’t been in recent games when we’ve controlled possession.
“A few players were off that side of it, we didn’t press enough and against teams like this you cannot afford to do that.”
Second-half goals from Beth England and Alex Greenwood consigned Bristol City to their seventh consecutive FA WSL defeat – and gave Liverpool their third win in their last four outings.
Over 500 fans saw the home side threaten first in the ninth minute when Yana Daniels’ dangerous cross from the left was parried away low by former Bristol keeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
Liverpool lost midfielder Jess Clarke to injury in the 19th minute, but had a promising moment just after the half-hour when an angled shot from Caroline Weir drifted wide of the far post.
The Vixens glimpsed a dead-ball chance just before the break when Millie Farrow was fouled just outside the box, but Lauren Hemp’s free-kick attempt was deflected wide for a corner, which came to nothing.
The second half opened in a more promising style for both teams and Bristol almost took the lead a minute into it. Hemp’s 20-yarder looked destined for the top corner but she was denied by a fingertip save by Chamberlain.
Beth England put Liverpool ahead and three minutes later the Merseysiders almost doubled their lead just before the hour mark, but Weir’s rising drive was fingertipped away by Sophie Baggaley, who was called into action again in the 70th minute to turn over a flighted attempt by substitute Ali Johnson.
The outcome was put beyond doubt in the 86th minute when England was upended inside the box by Bristol skipper Millie Turner, and Greenwood fired home the resulting spot kick with her left foot.
WHAT THEY SAID
Liverpool keeper Siobhan Chamberlain was delighted with her side’s second-half performance: “Our first-half performance was nowhere near what it should have been, but we spoke about it at half-time and came out with a lot more intensity after the break.
“Our quality showed, we worked hard for each other and we scored two good goals to get the three points.
“Bristol had a lot of the ball in the first half without doing too much with it, but credit to us for going out in the second half and getting the win.”
Bristol City boss Willie Kirk admitted that a lack of goals from his team is a problem: “It was frustrating to come out of the game with nothing because I thought we controlled the first half for about 35 minutes,” he said.
“Losing a goal early in the second half was very disappointing – it stung us, set us back and we never really got control of the game again.
“Our strikers are chomping at the bit to get a notch on their belt, but if we keep doing the right things then it will come.”
Bottom club Yeovil Town earned their first point of the FA WSL 1 season following a goalless draw with Birmingham City at The Viridor Stadium.
In-form forward Ellen White threatened early on, forcing Megan Walsh into a superb save when finding herself one-on-one.
Yeovil, yet to register a goal this season, almost scored in bizarre fashion when a defensive clearance rebounded off Ella Pusey and Ann Katrin-Berger in the away goal had to be alert to save.
White had another chance, but her instinctive shot from the edge of the box went wide.
The Blues continued to dominate, with White squaring the ball to Charlie Wellings in the middle and forcing Walsh to superbly tip over the bar.
The home side’s best chance came just before half time when Kayleigh Green raced through on goal, but her effort was sliced well over.
In the second half, Walsh had to get down quickly to push away a Meaghan Sargeant shot.
The away side worked the ball well again and Rachel Williams’s drilled effort was deflected just wide.
Walshs saved again when she got fingertips to a White shot that looked destined for the top corner.
And she almost bettered that spectacular stop by thwarting White from point-blank range with her feet to preserve the point.
WHAT THEY SAID
Keeper Megan Walsh on her side’s first point of the season:
“It’s amazing. You saw the amount of effort we put in and we didn’t stop right up until the end. We kept defending. I just can’t find the words.
“The performances have been getting better and better all the way through the season and now we are rewarded with a point and a clean sheet.”
Birmingham’s Aoife Mannion:
“We dominated the game for large periods and we know that there’s lots to learn and lots to take from it.
“We didn’t underestimate Yeovil. We know that they can be a hard team to beat and they’re very honest players, lots of hard work individually and as a team, and lots of credit to them.
“They really deserved to get a point from their performance and we’re disappointed that we weren’t able to play better and do more with our possession and convert our chances.”
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