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Match Report

Down to the wire - the WSL title is taken to the final day

Chelsea edge past gritty Spurs to take tense title race to the final day

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Chelsea FC Women

15 May 2024

Chelsea edge past gritty Spurs to take tense title race to the final day.

Chelsea will go into the final day of the Women’s Super League season level on points but crucially, two goals ahead of Manchester City at the top of the WSL table after a 1-0 win over a dogged Spurs side in East London. 

Maika Hamano slid home the only goal of the game seven minutes before half time, tapping in a teasing Guro Reiten cross to leave Chelsea in pole position in the most tense of WSL title races. 

Robert Vilahamn hfs yo maske one injury enforced change, with Becky Spencer dripping out in place of Barbora Votikova in goal, with Celin Bizet making her way into the starting XI, in place of Martha Thomas.

For Chelsea and Emma Hayes, Ashley Lawerence, Cat Macario and Melanie Leupolz came into the side for three changes from the side that battered Bristol City 8-0 a fortnight ago, with Eve Perriset, Sophie Ingle and Sjoeke Nusken dropping to the bench.

In the balmy East London sunshine, Emma Hayes’ final game in London got underway with Tottenham getting us off to a start in East London. 

The first effort of the game came from Catarina Macario, who jinked her way past two Spurs challenges before firing a low effort with Votikova held with ease in the Spurs goal,

The Blues worked another opportunity brilliantly, with Guro Reiten getting ion behind Ashleigh Neville and cutting the ball back to Erin Cuthbert, who’s effort went straight at Barbora Votikova. 

Che;sea were having the better of the opening exchanges, with Maika Hamano hitting an effort this time which appeared to strike the arm of the desperate Spurs defender, but referee Emily Heaslip remained unmoved.

Spurs were looking to use Jess Naz’s pace in-between Ashley Lawerence and Millie Bright, being found by a beautiful reverse Beth England ball, but the fourth official’s flag brought an end to that particular attack. 

Chelsea’s first big clear cut chance was one that should’ve found the back of the net, coming down the left flank again, neat interplay between Reiten and Niamh Charles saw the latter pick the onrushing Hamano out at the far post who’s diving header flew over the bar.

Jess Naz robbed Sophie Ingle in possession for Tottenham’s first effort, Celin Bizet made a very clever run which maybe was a better option than the left footed strike that Naz went for, which harmlessly flew into the arms of Zecira Musovic.

Erin Cuthbert was next to try her luck with a rasping drive, which Votikova spilled but managed to gather at the second attempt. Grace Clinton then spun perfectly in the Spurs midfield and strode toward the Chelsea goal, before firing an effort well off target.

Votikova had to be at her best to beat away a fierce Macario effort as Chelsea started to up the ante with ten minutes left of the first half, with Neville doing well to snuff Reiten out on the rebound. 

Chelsea finally got the breakthrough they deserved with nine minutes left of the half, again it was down their left with Reiten leaving Neville in her wake before fizzing a delicious ball across the box which was begging for a tap in, which Hamano obliged, sliding in at there far post to give the Blues the lead with her second goal for the club. 

The introduction of added time was delayed due to Amanda Nilden being stretchered off following a prolonged period of treatment, leading to Charli Grant being Brough on in her place. 

Jess Naz flashed a chance across the box in added time, but Chelsea held out and went into the break with a goal cushion. 

HT - Spurs 0-1 Chelsea

The Blues got the second half underway, with the visitors being backed by a very vocal South stand here at Brisbane Road.

Naz won the ball high up again and this time opted to find Bizet, who never quite got enough room to get a shot off against Nathalie Bjorn and Chelsea were able to clear for a corner. 

It was a sustained period of Spurs pressure which saw the hosts win three corners in quick succession, they finally made use out of the third one, with the ball bobbling around amidst some desperate Chelsea defending, James-Turner and Neville both went for the same ball in the Chelsea box, with the effort somehow being scooped over the bar than into the back of the net.

Chelsea’s first chance came down, yep you guessed it, the left hand side as Charles got in this time with the Spurs defence able to scramble clear. 

Hamano was also appearing to have a field day down the right, skinning Charli Grant before cutting it back to Aggie Beever-Jones whoi;’s clever back heel flick went just wide,.

Some incredible skill by Celin Bizet to leave Charles in her wake led to Spurs opening up another chance, but the ball across was cut out by Bjorn. Martha Thomas and Matilda Vinberg replaced Jess Naz and Martha Thomas. 

Evelina Summanen’s out swinging corner was then well met by Luana Buhler, but her header was an easy catch for Zecira Musovic. 

Chelsea then rolled their dice, with Jess Carter, Sjoeke Nusken and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd replaced Ashley Lawerence, goalscorer Maika Hamano and Catarina Macario.

A messy sequence of playing allowed Kaneryd her first chance since coming on, with Grant slicing two clearances but then shared her relief with the Spurs faithful as Kaneryd’s miscued effort rolled wide. 

Beever-Jones was then tee’d up from the left side but her header lacked any real conviction to trouble Votikova in the Spurs goal.

Fran Kirby and Lauren James were then introduced in place of Guro Reiten and Aggie Beever-Jones as a tense hush descended over Brisbane Road with Drew Spence being withdrawn in place of Kit Graham heading into the final ten minutes. 

Ticking into the final five minutes, Clinton found herself in space and robbed Chelsea before lashing a shot just over when Vinberg could’ve been slipped in down the right, which rather summed up Tottenham’s evening infront of goal.

Amid a nervous and tense atmosphere, Chelsea ground out the most precious of three points in Emma Hayes’ final London Derby, ensuring they go top, by two goals ahead of the most fascinating and thrilling final day the WSL has ever scene. 

FT Spurs 0-1 Chelsea

Goal: Maika Hamano 37’

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