Spence nabs a brace as Blues cruise into 5th round of FA Cup beating London City Lionesses 5-0
By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 5 v London City Lionesses 0
Drew Spence crashed home a brace as Chelsea overwhelmed their Championship opponents London City Lionesses 5-0 to progress smoothly into the fifth round of the FA Cup, but they will be sweating on the fitness of Magda Eriksson, who limped off injured, late in the second half.
Chelsea face a WSL title decider on Wednesday at Manchester City and will be desperate to have their skipper in the back four.
Head coach Emma Hayes made a host of changes to her regular side, knowing that whoever they put out from the squad would be good enough to overcome their enthusiastic but limited opponents.
Many had just returned from international duty and were sitting in the stand cheering on their team-mates at every opportunity.
The other goals came from Jess Carter, a wonder strike from Melanie Leupolz and a smart run and finish from speed merchant Niamh Charles.
Understandably, the home side took total control of the ball from the first whistle, with the Lionesses’s expending all their energy keeping the Blues at bay.
With a host of corners in their favour, demonstrating their superiority, Chelsea came closest to taking the lead on 16 minutes, but only the crossbar denied Hannah Blundell from crashing in a left-footed thunderbolt from the edge of the Lionesses penalty area.
Drew Spence was next up, but her close range header was deflected away for a corner.
From the resultant kick, Aggie Beever-Jones saw her fierce drive crash off the underside of the crossbar.
But a minute later, on 21minutes, live-wire Niamh Charles raced clear before slotting the ball home past Shae Yanez to open the scoring.
Number two was not too far behind, and the ball fell invitingly to Jess Carter, who smartly volleyed home, unmarked from 10 yards out.
The third on 35 minutes was not an intricate build-up, but simply a worldly by German Melanie Leupolz, who let fly from 25 yards with a zipper of a right-footer that arrowed into the to- left-hand corner of Yanez’s net.
Emma Hayes decided to replace ineffectual Beever-Jones and Charlotte Wardlaw at half-time - on came Beth England and Jessie Fleming.
It’s an indicator of the standards Hayes expects from her players - if you get the chance, make sure you take it otherwise, you’re off.
Inevitably, the fourth was not far behind and it came from Spence who slotted home, latching onto a byline cutback from Niamh Charles on 56 minutes.
Yanez denied Spence again on 64 minutes when she tipped a long-range effort over the crossbar.
If this was a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the bout for fear of the opposition sustaining further damage.
The only downside to playing this game so close to the WSL title decider is if a key player gets injured and that exactly what happened on 71 minutes when skipper Magda Eriksson sank to the ground clutching her left leg. She was quickly substituted by Sophie Ingle.
Jonna Andersson then replaced Niamh Charles.
Spence duly got her second and Chelsea’s fifth with 10 minutes remaining - again, she was unmarked just inside the Lionesses penalty area, and she cooly drove home a low right-footer past Yanez.
Teams: Chelsea, Telford, Blundell, Carter, Leupolz, Eriksson, Charles, Cuthbert, Spence, Fox, Beever-Jones, Wardlaw.
Subs: Musovic, Ingle, England, Fleming, Andersson
London City Lionesses, Yanez, Short, Priest, Murphy, Agg, Grace, Nolan, Bennett, Fitzgerald, Primus, Fyfe.
Subs: Smith, Mackie, Cowan, Kempis, Rossiter, Balfour, Mason, Wilson
Referee: Chloe Anderson