Chelsea battle past West Ham on return to Kingsmeadow

Chelsea marked their return to Kingsmeadow with a hard-fought 2-0 win over a spirited West Ham side.

Goals from Sam Kerr and Erin Cuthbert were enough to send Chelsea back to the top of the Women’s Super League (WSL).

The win continued the side’s astonishing run of form at home having won 28 of their last 29 home league games.

After an edgy start that saw West Ham squander a few promising counter attacking opportunities, the Blues managed to wrestle control of the match and it was the duo of Kerr and Lauren James who began to dictate play.

Twice in the first half, James found space on the right-hand side and whipped in two pinpoint deliveries to the Australian, both of which she headed just wide of the goal.

The warning signs were there for West Ham, and minutes after Kerr had one strike ruled out for offside, she met Niamh Charles’ cross from the left and buried her third headed chance into the bottom left corner in the 36th minute.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with West Ham enjoying a spell of early pressure through a succession of corners. Chelsea goalkeeper Zecira Musovic sharply tipped over a swivelling effort from Kirsty Smith.

Lauren James continued to pose a threat though and she had a wonderful chance to score Chelsea’s second goal. After being played through expertly by Ashley Lawrence, James flashed her effort across the face of goal and wide of the post.

The second goal did eventually arrive, and in stylish fashion, with Cuthbert slotting home in the 90th minute after a neat one-two with Jessie Fleming, confirming what was a deserved Chelsea victory.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was happy with her side’s progress, saying: “I know they will improve. They’re a top-level group and I’m very happy with how we reacted.”

Her side remain unbeaten in the WSL this season as they search for an imperious fifth consecutive league title that would cement Hayes’ legendary status at the club even further.

“Managers are always seeking perfection,” she said, and it is this constant demand that will ensure Chelsea continue to be one of the favourites for the title as the season progresses.

Chelsea will return to Kingsmeadow on Sunday October 22 to face Brighton and must surely feel confident with the staggeringly good home record behind them.

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