#FAWSL: Chelsea Ladies are champions in waiting

Eniola Aluko celebrates her goal with the retiring Katie Chapman. (Photo: Kate Green for FA)

Chelsea are one win away from lifting the FA Women’s Super League 1 title after beating Sunderland in front of nearly 2,000 fans at Kingsmeadow.

Goals in either half from Fran Kirby and Eni Aluko were enough to extend Chelsea’s unbeaten league season and send the Blues six points clear at the top.

With Manchester City losing away to Arsenal, Chelsea could complete the double at Bristol City on Tuesday night, having won the SSE Women’s FA Cup on May 5.

Lucy Staniforth’s opportunistic 40-yard effort almost caught out Blues keeper Carly Telford early on.

Chelsea broke the deadlock just before half-time; Gemma Davison bursting down the right before squaring to Kirby and the striker’s shot looped off Black Cats’ defender Kasia Lipka and into the net for her 25th goal of the season.

Playing her final home game before retirement, captain Katie Chapman almost signed off in perfect style but Rachel Laws tipped her fierce effort onto the post.

Chelsea secured the win ten minutes into the second half when Aluko flicked home Jonna Andersson’s looping left-wing cross.

Keira Ramshaw’s low shot proved to be little more than a late consolation for the Black Cats who are now seven games without a win.

Eni Aluko, Chelsea striker, said: “I always want to get on the score sheet as a player, but first and foremost it is about performing. It is tough when you don’t play a lot, you don’t get that momentum.

“But for me, I felt good as soon as I got on the pitch today, I felt I had a good feeling, I have felt sharp all year and I am really focused on training.

“If it is to be my last home game today, which it is likely to be, then I really feel very proud to have finished off by scoring and to have given the Chelsea fans a goal.”

Rachel Pitman, Sunderland defender, said: “I think we are obviously disappointed with the result, but if we look back on previous games against them, to see how far we have come, we had plenty of chances on the pitch today and I think in previous games against them we have not had chances.

“We are confident in the ability of the team and we know that we can always create chances. In the first half, particularly in the first 10-15 minutes we were obviously under the cosh.”

Arsenal toasted Alex Scott’s impending curtain call with a stirring comeback victory over Manchester City.

Gunners stalwart Scott was honoured in her final home match in an Arsenal shirt. (Photo: Kate Green for FA).

The retiring Alex Scott saw Danielle van de Donk and Beth Mead goals inspire the Gunners back from a one-goal deficit and to within a point of second-placed City, watched by a crowd of 1,514.

A slow-burning opening period burst into life with seven minutes gone, Jordan Nobbs’ rising shot on the turn forcing an acrobatic palm from City goalie Karen Bardsley.

Four minutes later, the visitors were ahead, Georgia Stanway embarking on a driving run from deep before sliding a pass into the feet of Nadia Nadim, who bent a smart, low finish past Gunners keeper Sari van Veenendaal.

Arsenal were level after the break, Jordan Nobbs seizing on a loose pass from Stanway and cut the ball to the edge of the area for van de Donk, who dispatched a delightful right-footed curler to make it 1-1.

The scoreline was fully flipped on its head in the 62nd minute, a sweeping team move ending with Kim Little feeding Mead, who lashed emphatically past Karen Bardsley.

Arsenal veteran Alex Scott said: “Anyone will tell you that I don’t like being the centre of attention.

“It was a real emotional one. To get the guard of honour, first of all; I found it really hard to hold it together but it’s the end of a chapter and the start of a new one, and it’s been a great chapter in my career.

“It was a comeback that we deserved. We gifted them the goal in the first half but we did well, dug deep, showed our character, and thoroughly deserved it.”

Manchester City head coach Nick Cushing said: “I thought the game was even and we had chances to go two-ahead or draw the game – but, in those moments when Arsenal got the two chances, they scored.

“We’ve had a lot of games and a lot of travel, and mental fatigue. We knew we would have to dig deep against a team with high enthusiasm and real high motivation.

“The league’s done. We don’t expect Chelsea – they haven’t lost all season – to lose two games.

“We need to make sure that we secure that second place.

A brace from Brooke Chaplen and a goal for Lauren Bruton saw Reading climb back to third in the FA WSL 1 table with a convincing 3-0 victory over Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium.

Two-goal Brooke Chaplen. (Photo Kieran McManus for FA)

A crowd of just under 1,400 were in attendance to witness a win that almost guarantees Reading a top-four finish with a game to spare.

The Royals are now three points ahead of the fifth-placed Reds, with an 18-goal advantage in goal difference, while they are now also just a point behind second-place Manchester City.

Reading opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Chaplen picked the ball up on the left wing before driving inside and unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

In the 73rd minute Chaplen doubled her tally, reacting quickest when Bruton’s through-ball was deflected and lifting the ball over Siobhan Chamberlain.

Beth England had a chance to pull one back for Liverpool but blazed her half-volley over from Laura Coombs’ clever knock-down before Chaplen came agonisingly close to completing her hat-trick, cannoning a header against the crossbar.

Nine minutes from time Bruton scored a third for the Royals – rolling the ball into an empty net after picking up Fara Williams’ long ball and rounding the on-rushing Chamberlain.

Reading’s two-goal striker Brooke Chaplen said: “We pressed them and probably made the most of mistakes. Going into these last two games, we thought two lots of three points would make it a good season, so we’re halfway there.

“I was pleased with my first goal as we do so much work on long-distance shooting and we get criticised for not doing enough of it.

“Remi (Allen) worked really hard to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch, Fara (Williams) made a run across and I just saw the side of the goal open up so I thought I’d have a go and it went in.”

Liverpool manager Scott Rogers said: “We’re very disappointed with the result. We’ve almost gone from elation after our win against City in mid-week to deflation after the defeat here.

“We’ve got a down group in the changing room because the game wasn’t really a representation of what we’re about. We didn’t do well enough in possession and we didn’t work hard enough out of possession.

“We only had two days’ turnaround to prepare for the game and it’s not an excuse because maybe we could have done more as a group of staff and players to prepare for the game.”

Bristol City ran out 2-0 winners in their FA Women’s Super League 1 match against Yeovil Town at the Viridor Stadium after opening the scoring from a corner.

Team-mates race to join Lauren Hemp in her goal celebration. (Photo:: Will Cheshire)

The visitors moved up to seventh in the league table after second-half strikes from Lauren Hemp, who found the net from the set-piece, and Yana Daniels secured all three points.

Charlie Estcourt went close to giving the visitors the lead after five minutes, hitting a rising shot which struck the underside of the bar and bounced back on the line before being safely collected by goalkeeper Megan Walsh.

City then rattled the woodwork for a second time with a little help from Nicola Cousins, who deflected a Hemp cross towards her own goal but it came back off the post and was cleared.

The winger repeated the trick shortly before the break, although this time it was Bow Jackson who flicked a leg at the ball only to send it onto the top of her own bar.

Yeovil were at it themselves soon after as a Gemma Evans free-kick from out wide eluded everyone before hitting the base of the post and despite the hosts’ best efforts from the resulting scramble they couldn’t find the back of the net.

Hemp’s luck was in after half-time, though, as she gave the Vixens the lead in the 60th minute with a looping corner that beat everybody – including the ‘keeper – and found the far corner, bouncing in off the post.

On 73 minutes it was 2-0 as Daniels, who had wasted a similar opportunity earlier, this time cut inside and found the top corner with a precise left-footed strike that gave Walsh no chance.

Bristol City goalscorer Lauren Hemp said: “I’m going to say I meant it but I was just trying to get it in there and hope for someone to head it in but it managed to go in, so I’m delighted that we scored and obviously that we won.

“From then on, we kept pushing for a second goal, managed to get it and see the game out.”

Yeovil defender Gemma Evans said: “I thought maybe three points and another goal, but it wasn’t to be. We needed that bit of luck.

“It’s mixed emotions. We had our chances, they had their chances but they were clinical. We weren’t as clinical and I don’t think our chances were as clear as theirs, but we kept fighting so there is no more we can ask for from the girls. It is what it is.

“We’ve experienced it most of the season to be honest with you. The character of the girls is unbelievable – I’ve never been in a team that’s so strong when things aren’t going your way.”

Attendance : 505

Sheffield FC goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons put on a saving masterclass as her side played out a goalless draw with London Bees at The Hive.

Goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons helped keep the Bees at bay. (Photo: Sheffield FC Ladies)

Bees started the brighter and almost went ahead inside two minutes, when Evie Clarke forced Gibbons into a fine save from inside the box.

Gibbons also had her palms stung by Emma Beckett from distance, and made another save to deny Clarke as the home side dominated the early proceedings against a tired-looking Sheffield FC.

For the visitors, Melissa Johnson stabbed an effort into the side netting ten minutes before half time, while Niamh Cashin went close with a header from a Jenna Dear free kick.

But it was always the Bees who looked more like scoring, and they would have done so moments before half time had it not been for another spectacular Gibbons save.

Paula Howells beat her defender down the left, and floated over a brilliant cross which Katie Wilkinson looked to have converted before Gibbons, somehow, managed to push it away.

Sheffield FC improved after the break, Chloe Dixon and Emma Johnson both spurning excellent chances from close range, and Hannah Cain looked certain to break the deadlock, but couldn’t bundle the ball home when Nicola Hobbs misjudged a cross.

Bees created little in the second half, but could have snatched the win two minutes from time, only for Gibbons to pull off another fine save, this time to deny Becky Anderson.

London Bees captain Emma Beckett: “We definitely had some great chances, their keeper made a few great saves. But equally they had a few chances which were maybe harder to miss.

“Overall, I think we dominated possession, but based on the chances alone I think it’s fair.”

Sheffield goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons said: “It’s not just me at the back, it’s the back four as well, and we had a lot to do today. Those four girls were brilliant for the whole 90 minutes, we all did our job back there.

“With the Wilkinson header, it’s so important to be set when they’re about to shoot – I thought she was going to go across me so I tried to set early, and luckily it wasn’t right in the corner so I managed to get there.”

Attendance: 246

By Sportsbeat

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