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Notts County 1 (Clarke 40) Chelsea 0
Notts County made a big step towards safety as they beat league leaders Chelsea Ladies 1-0 at Meadow Lane.
Chelsea came out of the blocks firing, Carly Telford doing well to tip a dipping shot over her bar with just seconds on the clock. Shortly afterwards Eniola Aluko got in behind the Notts defence after Rachel Corsie could only get a toe to the ball, the England striker's touch was too heavy though and Carly Telford claimed at her feet.
County started to come more into the game as it passed the 10 minute mark. Jess Clarke won a free kick on the left side of the away side's box. Rachel Unitt swung it in dangerously with her left foot, Marie Hourihan could only punch as far as Danielle Brogan 16 yards out, but the defender slipped on the greasy surface before she could make contact.
Fiona O'Sullivan, making her home debut, did well to break through two challenges on the edge of the box, her first shot was blocked but the second came back to the striker who could only curl her shot straight at Hourihan.
Jackie Groenen found herself in space on the left for the visitors on 20 minutes, but the midfielder chose to pass when well placed and Notts cleared.
The game continued to be end to end, with neither team able to carve out a golden chance to open the scoring. Jess Clarke twisted and turned on the right of the box after an O'Sullivan lay off, curling the ball just wide with her left foot.
There was a sign of things to come on 34 minutes, Walton swung in a free kick which Dunia susi flicked on, Clarke just unable to finish at the far post.
With five minutes until half time Clarke did find the finish. Another free kick, this time swung in from Katie Hoyle, was met eight yards out by Clarke who fired her header downwards and past Hourihan to give County the lead.
League leaders Chelsea almost replied immediately, Aluko found a lot of space on the left hand side, taking the ball deep into the box before crashing a shot past Telford and against the post, the ball flying across the goalmouth before Notts could clear.
The hosts came out for the second half the strongest, winning an early corner which Hourihan collected at the second attempt. O'Sullivan almost found herself clear two minutes later but good work from Hourihan again thwarted the Lady Pies.
England stopper Carly Telford was called into action from her international colleague Aluko, but in determined form Telford did well to save.
With almost ten minutes of the second half gone, Notts almost doubled their lead. Danielle Brogan rose highest from a corner, Blundell doing well to clear it off the line before deflecting Aileen Whelan's rebound wide.
Both sides continued to push and O'Sullivan almost got in behind Gilly Flaherty but the defender did well to recover and clear. As time wore on Jess Clarke was causing problems for the visitor's defence, twice intercepting forward passes and driving towards goal, the second time drawing a foul from Katie Chapman, Corsie firing the free kick.
It was Scotland international Corsie that County had to thank for keeping their lead. Rachel Williams nipped in ahead of Telford on the side line 30 yards out, the striker taking it towards goal before shooting low at an empty net, Corsie coming out of nowhere to slide in and block the effort.
Korean international Ji So-Yun tried her luck as the game entered the last 10 minutes, a superb bit of skill form the striker was followed by a fizzing shot which flew just over.
The Lady Pies continued to throw their bodies on the line in the last five minutes, blocking everything that came towards goal and seeing out the 90 minutes to claim a deserved victory over league leaders Chelsea.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Sophie Walton, Amy Turner, Katie Hoyle, Danielle Brogan, Rachel Corsie, Jess Clarke, Aileen Whelan (sub Emily Roberts 66mins), Fiona O'Sullivan, Rachel Unitt (sub Dunia Susi 26mins), Desiree Scott.
Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Hannah Blundell, Claire Rafferty, Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty, Laura Bassett, Yuki Ogimi, Laura Coombs (sub Rachel Williams 60mins), Eniola Aluko, Ji So-Yun, Jackie Groenen (sub Danielle Buet 74mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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