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Birmingham City 0 Chelsea 1 (Chapman 9)
Chelsea kept up their winning start to the season after an early goal from Katie Chapman was enough to give them a 1-0 victory at the Autotech Stadium in a game of few chances.
The league leaders started the game brightly but it was a mistake by the home side which led to them taking the lead after nine minutes. Rebecca Spencer's pass was intercepted by Gemma Davison whose shot was parried around the post for a corner. The resulting kick was not cleared by the Birmingham defence and Chapman hooked the ball over the defence and Spencer to give her side the lead.
Jo Potter lifted a free kick over the bar at the other end but Chelsea's high pressing game was causing problems for the home defence and forced them to give away possession on a number of occasions. However, Chelsea were finding it hard to create any clear cut opportunities despite some promising situations.
Chelsea were looking at their most dangerous at set pieces and it took a good block by Meaghan Sargeant to deny Drew Spence as she pounced on a loose ball in the area. Moments later, Eniola Aluko played a great crossfield pass into the path of Davison who drove into the area but Spencer did well to keep out her shot with an outstretched leg.
Ji So Yun was narrowly off target with a free kick from 25 yards as Chelsea took their one-goal lead into the interval.
Birmingham made a double substitution at half time with Freda Ayisi and Karen Carney both making their returns to the side after spells out. Ayisi saw a shot charged down by the excellent Chapman but once again Birmingham struggled to break down a well drilled Chelsea defence.
At the other end, Niamh Fahey met a Ji corner with a diving header which was just wide but they were also making little impression going forward as the game became increasingly scrappy.
Another corner nearly led to Chelsea doubling their lead, Ji's kick was headed across goal by Millie Bright for Gilly Flaherty whose shot on the turn came back off the post.
Ayisi had a deflected shot saved by Hedvig Lindahl and although Birmingham introduced Kirsty Linnett as an extra striker, chances stayed at a premium at either end.
Chelsea successfully ran down the clock, including three late substitutions, to complete a hard earned win and preserve their two-point lead at the top.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Karen Carney 45mins), Jess Carter, Meaghan Sargeant, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen (sub Kirsty Linnett 75mins), Emily Westwood (sub Freda Ayisi 45mins), Jade Moore, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Alex Windell, Coral-Jade Haines.
Chelsea: Hedvig Lindahl, Ana Borges, Claire Rafferty, Millie Bright, Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey, Gemma Davison (sub Jackie Groenen 80mins), Katie Chapman, Eniola Aluko, Ji So Yun (sub Marija Banusic 90mins), Drew Spence (sub Laura Coombs 88mins). Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Hannah Blundell, Jodie Brett, Anne Meiwald.
(top) Ana Borges in pursuit of Melissa Lawley
(middle) Claire Rafferty takes on Meaghan Sargeant
(bottom) Aoife Mannion slides in to tackle Eniola Aluko
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