Chelsea Ladies Football Club have won The Double!
Needing only a draw today (Tuesday) to clinch the FA Women’s Super League title, they traveled to Bristol, kept a clean sheet, scored twice and defeated Bristol City 2-0. It’s their second trophy of the season, following the May 5th win in the Women’s FA Cup Final.
This was another determined, focused display from the Blues, who have gone undefeated so far in the WSL1 season (12 wins, 5 draws), with one match left to play (against Liverpool, on Sunday), while closest rivals Manchester City have fallen away with just two wins in their last seven.
The atmosphere at Stoke Gifford Stadium was a far cry from the one at Wembley Stadium ten days ago, when Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 to win the Woman’s FA Cup in front of 40,000 raucous fans. Stoke Gifford may have been custom-built for the team, but the capacity is tiny by comparison to Wembley and regular rail service could be seen running behind one end.
Still, there was absolutely no letdown from Emma Hayes’ squad, just as there hadn’t been four days after the Cup final, when they banished thoughts of a hangover with a gritty 2-1 win over Birmingham City. Even with the boss herself unable to take part due to health reasons (she’s due to give birth to twins next month!), the players took care of business.
Chelsea took the lead after just ten minutes, with Drew Spence heading in a beautiful lofted cross from Ji So-yun.
Drew Spence Scores Goal to put Chelsea 1 up, Video courtesy of: BT Sport 1, FA Women's Super League 1 #womensfootball #FAWSL #WSUlive #soccer #football #ChelseaLFC #CLFC @23Spence pic.twitter.com/SXXJoLgOio— WomensSoccerUnited (@WSUasa) May 15, 2018
The WSL is growing — the FA Cup set an attendance record, Manchester United are finally deigning to field a team — but there’s still a vast gulf between the top teams and the rest. Bristol City sit seventh in the ten-team league but now trail Chelsea by a whopping 25 points.
That helps explain why, despite playing at home and despite needing a goal, most of the match was still played in City’s end. Chelsea were first to the ball more often than not, and keeper Hedvig Lindahl was only forced into one difficult save in the second half.
The pressure eventually paid off in the 88th minute, to make the match truly safe. Frank Kirby darted down the right side of the box, pulled a cross back across the top of the six yard area and there was Jonna Andersson to calmly slot Chelsea’s second goal home.
Not long after that, in added time, Ji smacked a lovely top corner shot that demanded the best from Bristol goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley. It was the final meaningful action of the match.
Minutes later, the final whistle and jubilation!
Chelsea Players react to winning the FAWSL Title, Video courtesy of: BT Sport, FA Women's Super League 1 #womensfootball #FAWSL #WSUlive #soccer #football #ChelseaLFC #CLFC @ChelseaFC @ChelseaLFC pic.twitter.com/8Zy5Q1ScFE— WomensSoccerUnited (@WSUasa) May 15, 2018
It was a surprising end to the season. Just 12 days ago Manchester City, last year’s title winners, beat this same Bristol City side 6-1 to move to the top of the table on goal difference. But while they proceeded to lose their next two matches, Chelsea won theirs and on Tuesday capped a season that leaves them one result away from being called The Invincibles.
It’s all a testament to the team spirit and will to win that has been assembled under Emma Hayes’ guidance. Katie Chapman, who’s retiring after the Liverpool game, put it best.
“To go out with two trophies is unreal. I love this team and I love this club and I think we’re deserving of that. Hopefully we can go the whole (league) season unbeaten - so we’ve still got one game to go (against Liverpool on Sunday).
”I’ve loved ending my career at Chelsea. These girls are great and our team is fantastic. What an honour for me to play in a team like this and to do the double with them.
”I’m sure we can celebrate a little bit (tonight). But we have got one more game and we do want to go unbeaten - that’s me being competitive - so we’ll focus on that game too.”
This has been a glittering year for Chelsea LFC. A Champions League semi-final, the furthest the team has yet advanced in the tournament. An FA Cup trophy (their second, after 2014-15). The WSL crown (also their second, after 2015). Winners of the WSL Spring Series in 2017 that bridged the gap between the 2016 season (spring-fall) and the 2017-18 season (fall-spring). Both a Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association women’s player of the year award for Fran Kirby.
Chelsea have committed resources to the women’s team and it’s paying off.
“This is something we set out for at the beginning of the season. We wanted to win as much as we can and we’ve got the team that can do it.”
-Frank Kirby; source: BT Sport via Evening Standard
Correction: a team that has done it. Congratulations!