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London Bees 3 (Flaherty og 58, Wilson 81, Cooper 114) Chelsea 3 (England 9,94, Bright 90)
London Bees won 4-2 on penalties
London Bees gave a fantastic performance to knock FA WSL champions Chelsea out of the Continental Tyres Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw at The Hive.
In the biggest upset in the five years of the Conti Cup, Bees, who had endured eight and thirteen goal humiliations at the hands of Chelsea in previous editions of the competition, went toe to toe with their illustrious opponents. Cruelly denied a victory in 90 minutes by a stoppage time Chelsea leveller, Bees then fell behind in extra time before taking the match to penalties and clinching a stunning win.
Bees entered the contest in good shape on a five match unbeaten run but fell behind early on when Beth England was given time and space to drill a fine 25-yard shot beyond Bees keeper Bethan Davies on nine minutes. Davies then tipped over Hannah Blundell's shot on 20 minutes whilst Bees' first attempt came from a Nikki Watts volley from Eva Popadinova's cross.
Drew Spence was denied by Davies after a good run and shot and the Bees keeper did well to hold a powerful Karen Carney shot on 40 minutes. Chelsea had dominated the first half but Bees were well in the match and had impressed with their calm defending and ability to construct attacks, albeit without testing Chelsea debutant keeper Fran Kitching.
Eniola Aluko created the first chance after the restart but shot high and wide on 48 minutes. Gradually, Bees started to create chances, Kitching clearing well under pressure from Watts, then Paula Howells going close from distance. Jo Wilson then got clear of the Chelsea defence on 58 minutes, Kitching did well to save her shot but the ball rebounded into the goal off Gilly Flaherty for the equaliser.
Carney and Gemma Davison missed chances to restore Chelsea's lead but Watts was only denied by a goal line headed clearance by Flaherty as a fine contest unfolded. Davison was a constant threat to the Bees defence but again Davies denied her with a fine save on 65 minutes. Wilson was hauled down by Niamh Fahey as the Bees striker bore down on goal and the Chelsea defender was sent off. Watts sent in the resulting free kick which crashed to safety off the bar.
The reprieve was only temporary for the Champions however. On 80 minutes Wilson gave Bees the lead, finishing coolly after again breaking clear. Chelsea kept pressing as the minutes ticked down and won a corner deep onto added time, Davison's delivery falling to sub Millie Bright who steered a low shot home.
Chelsea made light of their numerical inferiority to grab the lead four minutes into extra time. A right wing cross was met with a firm header from England for her second goal. Bees were still very competitive however, Emma Beckett headed a corner narrowly over under pressure and it was fellow defender Deanna Cooper who netted the equaliser from another corner as the Chelsea defence failed to clear on 112 minutes.
Bees finished strongly with efforts from Watts and Popadinova but spot kicks would settle the tie after an excellent contest. Chelsea keeper Kitching made a fine save to give Blues the early advantage but Bees keeper Davies equalled this from the second spot kick from Carney. Bees converted their next three penalties whilst Ji So-Yun missed Chelsea's third effort. Substitute Merrick Will held her nerve to clinch a famous win for Dave Edmondson's team, the greatest moment in their short history. Every Bees player had given their all in a superb performance against a strong Chelsea line up to win a quarter final spot.
London Bees: Bethan Davies, Manuela Naprta, Deanna Cooper, Emma Beckett, Sophie Fogarty, Evdokia Popadinova, Ashleigh Goddard, Nikki Watts, Rebecca Anderson (sub Merrick Will 99mins), Paula Howells, Jo Wilson (sub Sydney Hinchcliffe 85mins). Subs not used: Andria Georgiou, Dani Scanlon, Zemeka Clarke.
Chelsea: Fran Kitching, Jade Bailey, Niamh Fahey, Gilly Flaherty, Hannah Blundell (sub Ana Marques Borges 59mins), Drew Spence, Karen Carney, Beth England, Gemma Davison, Alessia Russo (sub Ji So-Yun 59mins), Eniola Aluko (sub Millie Bright 77mins). Subs not used: Hedvig Lindahl, Lois Joel, Zoe Cross.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Eniola Aluko tries to close down Deanna Cooper
(middle) Sophie Fogarty slides in to tackle Alessia Russo
(bottom) London Bees celebrate their stunning victory
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