Chelsea stumble as Lincoln gain valuable point in 1-1 draw

The spoils were shared at The Imperial Fields Stadium as Chelsea came from behind to grab their first point in the Women’s Super League.

Both sides were keen to get their respective campaigns going, after faltering starts in the league’s opening week.

Lincoln ladies started brightly when Sue Smith earned a free kick on the right wing and picked herself up to take it, drawing a smart save from Carly Telford. Chelsea front-woman Ashlee Hickes then cut in from the left and drilled a shot on target, to cap a lively opening five minutes in South London.

Chelsea failed to trouble Lincoln Keeper Hawkes for the remainder of the half as Lincoln ladies, newly instated at semi-professional level, took the game to the hosts.

England head coach, Hope Powell, was watching from the stands as her international stars, Sue Smith and Jess Clarke, proved themselves a handful for the Chelsea defence.

After heavy rallying for the opening half hour it seemed only a matter of time before the Imps found the net, with Jess Clarke missing the pick of the chances, firing over from just 3 yards. The northern club’s pressure told in the 35th minute when a long throw in was flicked on by Megan Harris for Carla Cantrel to nod in from close range.

Lincoln celebrate Cantrell's first half goal

The second half started in emphatic fashion as Helen Lander forced a corner for the blues after good work down the right.  Chelsea manager Matt Beard’s team talk told just moments later when  Rafferty picked out Sophie Perry, who guided her header past Hawke at the back post.

Lincoln were hit with an injury in the final quarter when defender Leandra Little was stretchered off. Manager Rod Wilson later suggested it was too early to tell how long t he injury will keep her out but labelled it a ‘huge blow.’

Despite the injury the visitors pushed for a winner, but never managed to recapture their first half form. Cantrel’s beautifully executed diagonal ball played in Jess Clarke but the lively international fired wide.

The blues Danni Buet’s blushes were saved when she inadvertently clipped a Sue Smith cross goalwards, only to be saved by the woodwork. Chelsea had the chance to steal the points at the death but a goal-bound drive from Drew Spence was blocked on the edge of the box.

At the final whistle the Lincoln boss did not hide his disappointment at missing out on victory. In his post-match analysis, he concluded: ‘It’s definitely two points dropped, we completely dominated the first half…we should have been way out of sight.’

Wilson’s opposite number, Matt B eard, bemoaned his side’s first half performance – conceding they were, ‘out-thought and didn’t play.’ The Chelsea boss admitted he was dissatisfied with his team’s start to the WSL, he said: ‘I’m expecting us to win our home games; to have played two games and have just one point is disappointing.’

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