If Beth England scores against Chelsea, she’s not going to celebrate! That was the message given to the media ahead of Tottenham Women’s clash with the Blues at Brisbane Road on Sunday… and events unfolded exactly as predicted. The former Chelsea striker, now leading the line for Spurs, duly fired home against her old teammates
If Beth England scores against Chelsea, she’s not going to celebrate! That was the message given to the media ahead of Tottenham Women’s clash with the Blues at Brisbane Road on Sunday… and events unfolded exactly as predicted.
The former Chelsea striker, now leading the line for Spurs, duly fired home against her old teammates (having been set up by another ex-Blue, Drew Spence), and maintained a subdued, respectful straight face, to the admiration of a large and boisterous contingent of the Chelsea fans who had chanted her name for years.
But the Blues just had enough in the tank to leave Orient’s ground in Leyton with all three points after a 3-2 victory – although it was getting hairy towards the end after Tottenham scored their second of the afternoon with a minute of normal time remaining.
From Emma Hayes’ perspective, this was a ground-out win rather than a convincing one. “I thought it was a scrappy game,” she said at the end, with some of the blame being placed on a threadbare pitch which had hosted Orient v Wimbledon the day before. “You have to grind out a result, but this is all about the three points.”
Chelsea opened the game brightly having made just one change (Sophie Ingle instead of Fran Kirby) to the starting XI from the Kingsmeadow 3-2 win against Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th Round the week before.
Erin Cuthbert lobbed a cross into the Spurs box after eight minutes following Guro Reiten’s short corner kick to Lauren James, and Jess Carter was at the far post to beat Tinja-Riikka Korpela, who had bright, low winter sun in her eyes.
Tottenham snapped at Chelsea’s heels throughout the game, and it was no great surprise when, eight minutes later, Spence and England combined to carve open the Blues’ defence and level.
But player-of-the-match James went on a superb solo run after 27 minutes, weaving through Spurs’ midfield and then defence before slotting home a simply magnificent goal to make it 1-2 at halftime.
Was Hayes thrilled? “Yes, it was a fantastic goal, but she still has to work on some other things; she needs to keep developing,” said the Chelsea manager, remaining grounded and realistic with half the season still remaining.
The Blues extended their lead to 1-3 after the break, thanks to Reiten’s swift breakaway run down the centre, until Tottenham sub Nikola Karczewska made life interesting right at the death by clawing back another goal.
Chelsea’s Women’s next match is on Thursday evening – a cup visit to West Ham.