BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea failed to overcome a spirited and well organised Manchester City side this afternoon as the WSL 1 champions were held 0-0 at Kingsmeadow in the opening league match of the season.
Both sides had players who could have done with a bit of a breather following on from World Cup qualifier matches a week earlier.
The crowd of 2,501 were entertained to a duel rather than a football match.
The top two sides in the country cancelled each other out with neither having the cutting edge in the finals third to make the difference.
City’s Jennifer Beattie was given a yellow card on two minutes after cutting down Ramona Bachmann, indicating that this spiky affair was living up to its pre-match billing as a crunch encounter against the country’s top two sides..
The first Chelsea effort was by Bethany England, but her low, right-footed drive , from the edge of the City penalty area was inches wide of Karen Bardsley’s right post.
While City took control of possession, it was Chelsea who had the next effort on goal. Again England, produced a thumping left footer which Bardsley needed to handle twice to fully get it under control.
Nikita Parris produced a thunderbolt of her own, which looked good for the TV cameras but was wide of Hedvig Lindahl’s right post.
Maren Mjelde forced Bardsley into a low, drive to her right within an edge of the penalty area daisy-cutter.
New skipper Karen Carney’s snatched effort after a fine long run by Ji So Yun zoomed over the City crossbar as the home side looked more comfortable on the break.
A Bachmann curler was no trouble for Bardsley as Chelsea finished the half stronger.
Georgia Stanway let fly with a spectacular 25-yarder, seconds after the restart. It zipped inch’s over Lindahl’s crossbar.
Nadia Nadim replaced Lauren Hemp at half-time.
Magdalena Eriksson was yellow carded on 52 minutes for a needless challenge on Jill Scott.
Sophie Ingle made way for Fran Kirby on 67 minutes.
Chelsea had a wonderful chance to score with 15 minutes to go, inspired by Kirby, but Yun took one too many touches in the City penalty area and the chance was gone
Erin Cuthbert replaces Ji So Yun on 80 minutes. But neither goal was breached and a draw was the desreved result.
Teams: Chelsea, Lindahl, Bright, Ingle, Carter, Carney, Yun England, Eriksson, Mjelde, Andersson, Bachmann
Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Blundell, Kirby, Engman, Cuthbert, Spence
Manchester City: Bardsley, Bonner, Beattie, Houghton, Lawley, Scott, Stanway, Hemp, Parris, McManus, Walsh
Subs: Roebuck, Jans, Nadim, Beckie, Emilie, Wullaert