By PAUL LAGAN
2,866 at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 6 v Bristol City 1
Chelsea cruised to a 6-1 thrashing of lowly Bristol City this afternoon, despite going a goal down in the 14th minute.
A brace from Beth England and Ji and strikes from Hannah Blundell and Jess Carter keep the Blues in third place in the WSL1 – a point behind Manchester City and two adrift of leaders Arsenal.
Chelsea had to contend with a flu-like bug ravaging the squad with reserve goalkeeper Carly Telford getting sent home from Kingsmeadow before kick off leaving the Blues without a replacement stopper.
But it wasn’t needed – this was a cool, professional display, where they could have should have scored more, and still must get to grips with going a goal behind.
Early pressure from the home side, two corners in the first four minutes, the first saw Beth England head over from close range.
City goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley was next up to thwart the Blues, with a smart save from S0-Yun Ji.
England screwed a shot across Baggaley on eight minutes after being set up by a long pass from Jess Carter.
Chelsea continued to cut City apart, with England the architect, but the final ball was just lacking.
But with their first attack, and with the Chelsea faithful chanting the name of Fran Kirby, who is recovering from a virus, Ebony Salmon, slotted home from close range to put the visitors into a shock lead.
The anomaly of that attack simply emphasised the superiority of the home side and on 27 minutes, England rose to meet Jonna Andersson, left win cross. The striker got ahead of Baggaley and planted her header into the empty net to level the score.
On 34 minutes, Andersson almost gave the visitors a goal when she failed to clear the ball. salmon snaffled it, raced into the Chelsea penalty area. Thankfully Berger dived to her left to garb the goal-bound effort.
With five minutes of the half remaining a swift move across the pitch from left to right, saw Hannah Blundell pick the ball up, cut inside and let fly with a smart left footer to.
The ball took a wicked deflection off Poppy Patterson, and the ball eluded the prone Baggaley and ended up in the back of the net to complete the goal-scoring turnaround.
England should have put the game to bed two minutes later, but a close-range downward header was well held by Baggaley.
The third was a mere formally and after a deep corner from Erin Cuthbert the ball dropped to Jess Carter who smacked the ball home.
With the last kick of the half, Ji slotted home to make it four.
To make matters worse for Bristol, Emma Hayes brought on superstar Sam Kerr at half-time – Drew Spence making way.
Five minutes after the restart and a stunning attack saw Reiten, on the left cut the ball back and Ji was on hand to score her second goal, when she rammed home a right footer from 12 yards.
Blundell rattled the upright with a venomous right-footer on 55 minutes as the Blues sought to increase the goal difference, which in a tight league with Arsenal and Manchester City vying for the title, it could come down to which team scored the more goals.
Kerr showed her speed, poise and balance on 69 minutes when she latched onto an Ingle pass. She outpaced the chasing City defence, but could not force the ball home – Baggaley hacked away the Australian’s low drive.
With nine minutes left, the crowd of 2,866 got to witness number six for Chelsea when once again, an Andersson left wing cross was met perfectly at the far post from an unmarked England and she directed her header inti the back of the net.
Team: Chelsea, Berger, Blundell, Bright, Ingle, Carter, England, Ji, Reiten, Cuthbert, Spence, Andersson
Subs: Engman, Kerr, Cooper, Bachman, Napier
Bristol: Baggaley, Dykes, Evans, Matthews, Brown, Pattinson, Salmon, Daniels, Sargeant, Hughes, Chance
Subs: Cummings, Van Dier Linden, Wellings, Collins, Robinson, Sanford, Jones
Referee: Emily Heaslip