Tottenham Hotspur Women probably couldn’t have opened their debut Women’s Super League campaign with a tougher match — a match against WSL third place finishers and Champions League semifinalists Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. But if they were awed by the circumstances, Spurs didn’t show it.
Chelsea were the better side on the day, and won the game 1-0 off of a magnificent long range goal from England international Bethany English in the 4th minute, but Spurs kept Chelsea out for the rest of the match and had opportunities to score. It was a very promising debut, even with the loss.
Tottenham were without their leading scorer last year Rianna Dean, who missed the match due to injury. Kit Graham, a summer signing from Charlton, started in her place at the tip of the spear. There were also debuts from keeper Becky Spencer, defenders Ria Percival, Hannah Godfrey & Siri Worm, midfielders Gemma Davison and Lucy Quinn, as well as Rachel Furness, a loan signing from Reading who joined the club only two days ago.
4’ — Goal Chelsea, and it’s a BEAUTY. Bethany England with a long strike past Spencer and into the top corner of the net. Can’t even be mad, that was lovely. Move started with a silly giveaway from Spurs midfielder Percival in midfield, though.
11’ — Yellow card for Spurs captain Schillaci for a heavy challenge. More like an orange card — she’s lucky not to be off. Whoof.
23’ — Chelsea pressing Spurs high up the pitch, making it difficult for Spurs to play out of the back. Every time Spurs break through the middle, the defense shuts them down.
29’ — Nice save from Spencer on a shot from Blondell... she had to go low to make the stop. Good confidence booster.
33’ — CLOSE from Spurs! Coral-Jade Haines found some space on the left flank and tried her luck with a shot on target. Chelsea keeper Berger spilled the ball right in the path of Kit Graham, who had her attempt blocked. Spurs’ best chance!
43’ — Haines with a shot! Spurs found a bit of space and broke through Chelsea’s back line, but while Graham found Haines in the middle, her curling shot went just wide of the left post. Promising!
HALFTIME — Spurs take a 1-0 deficit into the break. Chelsea are by far the better team here, and Spurs have spent most of the half bunkered. However, they’ve found a couple opportunities going forward when they’ve found pockets of space and forced two saves from Berger. Promising stuff, considering this is their first match as a pro side.
One halftime sub — Chloe Peplow comes on for Coral-Jade Haines... unclear if this is tactical or injury related.
46’ — Spurs get their first corner of the match! But it amounts to nothing.
49’ — Shot from Furness! Graham finds her on a diagonal ball into the box and her shot forces Burgess into making a low diving one-handed save. That was close.
60’ — Whoa! Chelsea hit the woodwork twice and twice denied. Spencer tips the initial shot from Chelsea’s Spence off the crossbar, and the rebound header caroms off the post. Neville with a crucial tackle to prevent a third opportunity. Spurs very lucky!
62’ — Sub for Chelsea — Diana Cooper coming on, Spence coming off.
70’ — Chelsea still the better side, but Spurs are playing like they know they can hang with these women. You can see the belief growing.
73’ — Attacking sub for Spurs — Lucy Quinn off, 19-year old forward Angela Addison on. Striker for a midfielder. YOLO. Erin Cuthburt coming on for Engman for Chelsea.
75’ — Sophie Ingle and Kit Graham butt heads literally in midfield, both are down receiving treatment. Ouch.
78’ — Free kick from Chelsea’s Reiten comes in and tipped away well by Spencer. Final sub made for Chelsea as Andersson comes on.
86’ — Spurs make their final sub, and it’s another attacker as Rosella Ayane comes on for Siri Worm. Ayane has goals in her.
94’ — GREAT SAVE SPENCER! Chelsea with a short range effort on target but Spencer comes off her line to make a superb stop. Spurs might not get a result today, but there are a lot of positives to take away here.
FULL TIME — Chelsea get the full points today, with Beth English’s wonder-strike the difference. Final score is 1-0, but this was a very encouraging display from the newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur Women.
- If there’s such a thing as an encouraging loss, this was it. Heading in, you would’ve expected Spurs to get blown out of the water at Stamford Bridge against a very good Chelsea team. But Spurs grew into the match as it went on.
- Spurs spent much of the first half playing Burnley ball and trying to play out of the back against a smothering Chelsea press, but they did on occasion find some pockets of space on the break. Playing defensively isn’t a terrible decision as they have players that just aren’t as quick, powerful, or talented as Chelsea.
- Skipper Jenna Schillaci marshalled a very good defensive performance by Spurs, but she probably should’ve been sent off after a horror challenge in the first half. She was lucky.
- Was very impressed with Gemma Davison in this match — she’s a heck of a player and was able to drive through the center of midfield with the ball, which stretched Chelsea’s defense.
- Also impressed with Furness and Graham. Furness didn’t look quite on the same wavelength as her teammates as she was open at the back post on several occasions and wasn’t seen, but she has some good skills. Graham had a couple of decent looks at goal in the second half and also wasn’t afraid to find teammates with her passing.
- By far my favorite player to watch was fullback Ashleigh Neville, who was EVERYWHERE in Spurs’ back line, almost playing as a “free 2.”
- Over 24k fans at Stamford Bridge to watch a top flight women’s football match. You love to see it.
- If this is any indication of how Spurs will look this season, they should be fine. If they can hang with the big three and take points off of the rest of the league, they’ll stay up comfortably. But it’s still early days.