Chelsea Ladies returned to FAWSL action with a convincing 4-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles. Emma Hayes chose a very attack minded team with essentially four strikers. Helen Ward led the attack and was flanked by Eni Aluko and Sofia Jakobsson, interchanging in wider positions.
New signing Yuki Ogimi playing just behind in the number 10 role. The Japanese international, and first Japanese player to feature in the FAWSL, settled in quickly and showed her class with some excellent link up play to wow the 400+ crowd at Wheatsheaf Park.
The fluidity and movement of the front four created numerous opportunities throughout the match and it was a fine through pass from Ward that set Eni Aluko on her way beyond the Belles defence to round the keeper cooly to open the scoring. Ward was then denied on 3 occassions by some last ditch tackling and blocking as well forcing a low save from Nicola Davies the former Chelsea player making her debut for Doncaster.
Doncaster struggled to cope with the running in behind. The Blues had countless corners as they searched for the second goal and Ward came closest again with her glancing header going just wide at the far post.
It almost felt like it was going to be one of those days of rued missed chances, as Ester rocketed a left foot shot out of the ground from a wide angle 8 yards out, but Aluko added a second just before half time picking up the ball on the left wing, she cut inside with a step-over beat two players and rounded a third before finding a pass into Ward’s feet who returned the one-two for Aluko to glide in and finish from 6 yards. A fine goal from the England international.
Helen Ward would add to her assists and good all round performance with a goal in the second half as Jakobsson’s effort, after a run down the right hand side, came back off the post and landed at the feet of Ward who had gambled and was rewarded to make it 3-0.
Immediately after Doncaster had their best chance of the match with a good driving run through the middle but their shot beat Telford but could only hit the far post before falling to a blue shirt to clear.
Jakobsson wrapped up all three points adding the 4th, latching on a misplaced shot (or very clever volleyed pass!) from Buet to blast the ball home.
Although Ogimi was not credited with any goals or assists it was a fine performance and she was involved in virtually every attack, leading to Hayes saying post match “She smoked a cigar whilst playing she was that amazing… Look she isn’t even sweating” on what was a hot sunny day in Staines.
It seemed like there was instant chemistry between the midfield and attack as she often dropped deep to pick up the ball with an assured touch and good strength and the decision making that befits an international with 100 caps.
Victoria Williams, a Belles defender, who had a brief spell at Chelsea in 2012, commented on Yuki Ogimi’s performance on twitter, calling Chelsea’s new Japanese player ‘class‘.
Doncaster did create a few chances themselves at 1-0 and into the second half but were largely reduced to speculative long range efforts with Sue Smith coming closest at 4-0 forcing Telford to tip over the bar.
Hayes was able to bring on Jodie Brett and Rosella Ayane, both 17, in the second half for their FAWSL debuts having recently been promoted from the club’s Centre of Excellence. This lead to a change of shape with Ogimi pushed higher up the pitch as the other three forwards were replaced.
Susi was the other sub and took up an attacking wide role with Ayane on the other flank and both quickly drove at the Doncaster full-backs with Susi creating a couple of chances and Ayane enjoyed some confidence boosting first touches and showed good skill and pace to burst past a couple of opposition down the left wing.
Brett took up a deep-lying playmaker role on her arrival and showed good tactical awareness to commit a foul when it looked like Doncaster might break into a good attacking area and showed a strong tackle when needed against senior and experienced opposition.
The overall team performance was exceptional. The back four were all composed in possession and played out from the back. Buet and Ester bossed midfield, with the later taken up a higher position on the pitch than in recent games, this was something I heard Hayes emphasising to the Brazilian after the warm-ups. Ester’s English has evidently improved and she arguably had her best game of the season.
The win takes the Ladies up to third in the table above Arsenal on goal difference, but having played more games.
In the other games Bristol extended their lead at the top of the league and realistically look out of reach, whilst Liverpool lost,for only the second time this season, to Arsenal the night before, The team from Merseyside are just 5 points a head of our Ladies who should now be aiming for a top three finish.
With a very bright future for a young and talented squad, it’s only a matter of time before we are challenging for the title and Champions League qualification.
Written by @ChelseaStats
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