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Chelsea 1 (Ayane 51) Bristol Academy 3 (Harding 9, Natalia 21, Windell 34)
Natasha Harding played a starring role as Bristol Academy continue to keep their title hopes alive with a 3-1 win over Chelsea at Staines.
They trail leaders Liverpool by six points and have two games in hand following their fifth victory in six matches and will approach Sunday's vital match with Arsenal full of confidence.
Both sides had chances to open the scoring in an open first few minutes, with Alex Windell almost netting from close range for the visitors before Helen Ward's effort for the hosts.
But Academy, who beat Chelsea 2-0 earlier in the season at home, soon took control. Barely ten minutes had gone when Harding capitalised on slack defending to loop a brilliant lob over Marie Hourihan.
Chelsea seemed stunned and midway through the first half, the excellent Harding turned provider. The Welsh international created space with some fine footwork and then floated a teasing cross for Natalia to head home.
Bristol, eager to keep in touch with Arsenal and Liverpool at the top, controlled the first half but looked vulnerable defensively at times - and goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain breathed a sigh of relief when Rosella Ayane could not capitalise on her weak clearance.
Harding, a danger all match, then launched a long throw into the box and Windell was on hand to tuck home the loose ball for her first ever WSL goal and deepen the gloom for Chelsea.
Emma Hayes' side responded well after the break and Ayane's effort hit the post and went in to reduce the arrears.
Harding was denied her second when her bullet header was brilliantly turned round the post by Hourihan, while Eniola Aluko fired agonisingly wide at the other end as Chelsea failed to find a way back.
Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Danielle Buet, Hannah Blundell, Drew Spence, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Jodie Brett (sub Karin Muya 70mins), Laura Coombs (sub Laura Rafferty 80mins), Eniola Aluko, Helen Ward (sub Helen Bleazard 79mins), Rosella Ayane. Subs not used: Carly Telford, Katie Holtham,
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Grace McCatty, Corinne Yorston, Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose (sub Christina Vega Leandro 57mins), Angharad James, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Laura May Walkley 87mins), Alex Windell, Ann Marie Heatherson, Natasha Harding, Ellie Curson (sub Nikki Watts 65mins). Subs not used: Laura Del Rio, Ellie Leek.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Natasha Harding lobs home the opening goal
(middle) Laura Coombs battles with Natalia
(bottom) Kylie Davies tries to stop Natasha Harding
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