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Top of the league Chelsea extended their lead to three points with a 4-2 victory over Bristol Academy on Thursday evening at Metropolitan Police F.C.
After the Blues had stunned their West Country visitors with three long range goals of real quality inside forty minutes, the young Academy team fought back well to give the hosts a few nervous moments before the end.
It took only four minutes for Leanne Champ to open the score with a powerful 30-yard shot into the top corner. After Lauren Wells did well to save an Emma Whitter shot at full stretch, Academy replied with Emma Plewa forcing a brave block from Siobhan Chamberlain when clear on goal after 13 minutes.
The Chelsea keeper set up the second goal with a big goal kick which Whitter headed to Lianne Sanderson, who took a touch and drilled a shot into the bottom corner on twenty minutes. Grace McCatty made a fine goal line clearance to deny the unlucky Whitter after another trademark run through the defence after 32 minutes but Sanderson showed her class shortly afterwards with a curling shot from the edge of the area for 3-0.
Academy struck back very quickly when Sharla Passariello shrugged off the last defender and finished very precisely into the corner of the net within four minutes.
Chelsea, who had put eight past Academy in the League Cup recently, pressed forward relentlessly after the break with a string of crosses and set pieces testing McCatty, Emma Jones and Katie Middleton, who made a fine covering clearance off the line to deny the Blues.
Wells then made a superb point blank save from Laura Cooper on 70 minutes but was very unlucky that the ball fell to the long time Blues midfielder for an easy finish.
Academy again fought back and finished playing their best football of the match as Plewa finished the rebound from a Chamberlain save on 75 minutes and Passariello was just wide after outpacing the home defence in the final minutes.
The home team deserved the victory as they had the majority of the play and chances but Academy, with a young and inexperienced squad at this level, were never outclassed, showed excellent team spirit and have the pace in attack to worry opposition defences. Chelsea will build on this result and the excellent win over Everton if they can beat Doncaster Rovers Belles at home on Sunday to preserve or extend their leadership.
Chelsea: Siobhan Chamberlain, Eartha Pond, Kylie Davies, Casey Stoney, Shelby Hills, Dunia Susi, Laura Cooper, Leanne Champ, Claire Rafferty, Emma Whitter, Lianne Sanderson.
Bristol Academy: Lauren Wells, Paige Stewart, Grace McCatty, Emma Jones, Katie Middleton, Becky Tweed, Loren Dykes, Alex Windell, Sharla Passiarello, Emma Plewa, Ellis Parsons.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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