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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium

Super sub England strikes to put plucky Irons to the sword

By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium

Chelsea 2 v West Ham 0

Beth England and Erin Cuthbert scored the goals that put tough West Ham to bed in a 2-0 WSL win at Kingsmeadow tonight.

The Blues dominated play in the first half, but could not score - the cutting edge of a seasoned striker was missing but it was rectified in the second with the introduction of England from the bench at half-time.

It took just five minutes for the striker to score the opener and settle the nerves - especially after the 0-0 draw away to Brighton at the weekend.

Beth England will be giving head coach Emma Hayes headaches as she ponders team selection for Saturday’s FA Cup match away to Aston Villa.

England has played a bit part this season. And with the side down to bare bones due to injuries, international commitments and Covid. the striker has spent much of it on the bench.

But she came on with the game heading towards a draw to one where three points were secured.

Chelsea are now a point behind leaders Arsenal who they have to face later this season.

Niamh Charles saw her deflected effort, on 14 minutes inch over the crossbar as the Blues laid siege on the visitors goal.

Pernille Harder had a powerful header punched away by Anna Leat a minute later.

The Hammers were quick on the counter and Ann-Katrin Berger was on hand to block tackle Claudia Walker .

A 25 yard Guro Reiten free-kick on 18 minutes also just inched over the visitors crossbar.

A clipped Sophie Ingle cross tapped the top of Leat’s crossbar as nothing the Blues tried seem to bear fruit in terms of goals.

A fine interception by Jonna Andersson on 27 minutes saw Chelsea themselves. Punter. The ball was fed to Fran Kirby, who opened the pace up for in-running Erin Cuthbert. But the Scotland international slashed at her right-footer and it sailed into the seats of the stand behind the goal.

A thunderous left byline free-kick was launched by Katerina Svitkova on 29 minutes. While it caused panic in the Chelsea defence. It was comparatively harmless s it zipped past everyone away for a goal kick.

An Ingle header and a pick-up by Harder almost saw the breakthrough on 35 minutes, but Leat was equal to the task, snaffling Ingle’s effort and keeping hold of the ball as Harder looked to pounce on any spillage.

A long run and shot by Harder saw the ever-confident Let dive to her left to hook the ball to her body.

Hayes needed to make a change - on came England. she replaced Reiten at half-time.

And it took just five minutes from the restart to suggest England should have started as the striker put Chelsea into the lead

The England international was right on the spot to take advantage of Leat spilling a Cuthbert left-footed drive, She poked home from close range.

Goals breeds confidence as the cliche goes, and that lead certainly put the crispness back into Chelsea’s play.

A couple of excellent interchanges between England and Kirby in particular showing Hayes that perhaps that should be the forward starting pairing for the away visit to Aston Villa on Saturday.

The change of role of Cuthbert from wide player to central midfield to replace Jessie Fleming who exited the filled to allow Jess Carter to come on reaped its rewards.

With seven minutes left in the clock, Cuthbert saw a lovely 20-yard left -footer loop past Leat to double the score.

It was game over at that point.

West Ham can take comfort that they are a team on the up.

Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Nouwen, Bright, Ingle, Reiten, Kirby, Fleming, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder, Andersson

Subs: Musovic, Carter, England, James, Spence, Abdullina

West Ham, Leat, Wayne, Evans, Snerle, Walker, Svitkova, Longhurst, Parker, Filis, Fisk, Cissoko

Subs: Moore, Flaherty, Joel, Cairns, Houssein

Referee: Ryan Atkin


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