WSL Top Two Start Year With Dramatic Wins

Ji So-yun right celebrates Chelsea’s second goal. (Photo Dave Shopland for FA)

Chelsea were briefly top after winning a thrilling London derby 3-2 over Arsenal, before Manchester City regained the leadership when eventually seeing off Reading in a 5-2 victory.

Sunday 7th January

FA WSL 1
Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal (Att: 2,570)
Reading 2-5 Manchester City (Att: 951)

FA WSL 2
Aston Villa 3-3 London Bees (Att: 240)
Millwall Lionesses 2-1 Sheffield FC
Oxford United 2-4 Durham (Att: 158)
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (Att: 253)
Watford 0-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles (Att: 200)

Chelsea edge five-goal London derby 

A crowd of over 2,500 at Kingsmeadow Stadium saw Chelsea finally see off Arsenal with a late winner.

Arsenal were very close to taking a 14th-minute lead, when a near-post ball from Jordan Nobbs led to Vivianne Miedema hitting the crossbar.

From a Ramona Bachmann ball into the box, Ji So-Yun then hit the post for Chelsea and moments later in the 24th minute, Maren Mjelde tapped the ball home after the upright initially came to the Gunners rescue again.

Four minutes into the second half and Danielle van de Donk forced Hedvig Lindahl to tip the ball over the bar but Arsenal were level on 56 minutes, Miedema the scorer via the keeper and the foot of the post.

Parity was all too temporary for the Gunners, as on the hour mark Ji’s effort from Bachmann’s cross was ruled to have crossed the goal-line despite the efforts of Jemma Rose.

However, 3 minutes later and the Blues failed to clear a corner and Dominique Janssen brought Arsenal back on level terms.

After Mjelde was denied by Sari van Veenedaal, both Lindahl and the post were needed to keep out a Beth Mead half-volley at the other end.

The deciding goal arrived 8 minutes from time, as van Veenendaal dragged debutant Jonna Andersson’s cross into her own net.

Scott secures Cityzens’ sixth successive win

Jill Scott scores Man City’s third. (Photo: Jamie McPhilimey for FA)

Reading cancelled out Manchester City’s two goal lead in a dramatic first half, before Nick Cushing’s side eventually ran out 5-2 winners.

Nadia Nadim was swift to make an impact for her new side, as she opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a powerful downward header from Nikita Parris’s cross.

Nadim was involved again on 32 minutes, playing in Claire Emslie to tuck the ball inside the far post.

Moments later Reading replied, Abbie McManus failed to deal with a Fara Williams ball into the six yard box and Remi Allen nipped in to score.

City lost their lead altogether on 41 minutes, losing possession when playing out from the back, the ball fell for Brooke Chaplen and she hit a 20-yard screamer into the far corner.

Two minutes afterwards and Manchester City regained the advantage with a deflected Issy Christiansen effort off a Parris pass.

The visitors restored their two-goal cushion on 56 minutes, Jill Scott with a backward header from Christiansen’s corner.

Within 2 minutes it was 5-2 from a counter-attack, Scott’s shot from an Emslie ball crossing the line before Mary Earps cleared.

Seconds later and Jo Potter smashed a free kick inches wide of the City upright but the Royals were unable to get back in the game again.

Belles stay four points clear

Unbeaten WSL 2 leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles came out on top away to winless hosts Watford, in Neil Redfearn’s first game in charge.

There was soon a hold-up in the game with Danielle Puddefoot down after a foul on Sam Tierney. When the match restarted, Jess Sigsworth free kick was headed into the box net by Leandra Little.

Doncaster doubled their advantage just before the break, Fran Kitching initially making a save but Sigsworth put in the rebound.

After the interval, the ball evaded Watford’s Helen Ward in a goal-scoring position and Anneka Nuttall volleyed narrowly wide of the Belles’ goal.

Kitching tipped a Tierney effort over the bar, with the Hornets also denied by the woodwork, with the ball bouncing down on the line.

Ness nets brace in Wildcats win

Durham came from behind to lead 3-1 at Oxford, on their way to a 4-2 victory that kept them second in WSL 2.

After an early corner for the hosts, Emily Allen crossed the ball back in and it was parried into the path of Hannah Short to poke home.

Durham equalised on 21 minutes, as Beth Hepple pounced on a giveaway to slot it in the bottom corner.

The Wildcats struck twice in a six-minute spell after the hour mark, with Zoe Ness making the most of a deflected cross that landed at her feet, before Sarah Robson prodded in from a corner.

United briefly got back in the game through an Ellis Hillman effort but Ness immediately restored the two-goal cushion from another flag kick.

Perry strike gives Brighton the points

An early Sophie Perry set-piece was the difference, as Brighton won 1-0 away to Spurs and remain in fourth place.

The only goal came 10 minutes in, as Perry powered in a free-kick from just outside the area and it found its way inside the near post.

Fliss Gibbons thought she had Albion’s second from an Ini Umotong cross but was deemed offside.

Renee Hector and Bianca Baptiste both went close for Spurs, while Jenna Schillaci watched her strike clawed from the top corner by Lucy Gillett.

Rutherford double lands Lionesses victory

Ella Rutherford scored twice in a three-minute spell, as Millwall fought back to beat Sheffield FC and hold third spot.

The visitors took the lead 8 minutes in, Hannah Cain racing clear to fire home off the post.

When the ball fell to Rutherford in the box on 35 minutes, she slotted it low past the keeper to level.

The lionesses were ahead via a Bonnie Horwood corner, which Rutherford nodded home.

Sheffield FC went close several times to equalising, perhaps nearest when a Cain effort forced an extraordinary save from Sarah Quantrill.

Ten-player Bees rescue point

Aston Villa overturned a 2-0 deficit to lead London Bees 3-2, only to concede a stoppage-time leveller when the visitors were down to ten through injury.

Danielle Lea played in Paula Howells to let fly from 20 yards and then Lea netted herself from outside of the box.

Aoife Hurley delivered for Ebony Salmon to pull one back by half-time and on 58 minutes Salmon scored her second.

With 15 minutes remaining, Elisha N’Dow headed home a Beth Merrick ball.

Despite the Bees finishing the game a player short, from a stoppage-time Sophie Fogarty corner, Katie Wilkinson scored against the side she left just days ago.