It wasn’t until the final minute of the first half that Chelsea’s travelling supporters had something to celebrate as Drew Spence slotted the ball past Charlton’s goalie Katie Startup to open the Blues’ account in the fourth round of the FA Cup at The Oakwood, writes Jane Grove. Chelsea, who fielded some of their younger
It wasn’t until the final minute of the first half that Chelsea’s travelling supporters had something to celebrate as Drew Spence slotted the ball past Charlton’s goalie Katie Startup to open the Blues’ account in the fourth round of the FA Cup at The Oakwood, writes Jane Grove.
Chelsea, who fielded some of their younger talent in the starting line-up – Emily Murphy, 16, (pictured centre); Charlotte Fleming, 17; Jamie-Lee Napier, 19; with Charlotte Wardlaw, 16, coming on for Hannah Blundell part way through the second half – had been frustrated time and again by the tenacious and spirited Championship side who gave a great account of themselves against the Women’s Super League team.
But a minute into the second half The Addicks’ hopes of levelling the score were dealt a body blow by Murphy who netted after Startup parried her first shot.
Then Spence made it a brace with a coolly taken penalty after Charlotte Fleming (who impressed with her quick feet and blistering runs) was upended in the box by Charlton’s captain Grace Coombs.
The Addicks held firm against repeated attacks by the Blues, who had by then got firmly into their stride – but once again Murphy found a way through to get her second goal from close range.
Then it was all over bar the shouting as an unfortunate injury to Fleming in a crunch tackle saw her being helped off the pitch with a heavily bandaged left leg. Millie Bright replaced her.
The fifth round now beckons, with Chelsea at home to WSL rivals Liverpool.
“I thought once we got ourselves going and we got the first goal the game became easier,” reflected Chelsea manager Emma Hayes at the end of the game. “But we had a lot of young players out in the team on the pitch and it showed, I think, in the earliest parts of the game; just that lack of composure at times, that lack of technique. It helped when Guro [Reiten] came into the game; it gave us a bit more width.
“I thought the youngsters did well; they are training with us more regularly, so they are more ready for these games – they fit seamlessly in what we are doing – but they have to be exposed to more adult football; that’s the best way for them to develop.”
Chelsea’s next game is on Wednesday away to Manchester United in the semi-final of the Conti Cup.