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Chelsea beat the weather to stage the only F.A.Womens Cup tie in the south of the country and gave an attacking festival to warm the crowd at the Metropolitan Police FC ground as they ran out 9-1 winners over Rotherham Utd.
Six Chelsea goals inside the first thirty minutes ended the contest, with Eni Aluko, Dunia Susi and Brooke Chaplen running riot up front, prompted by Dani Buet, Lizzie Edwards and Casey Stoney's perceptive passng and movement in midfield.
Rotherham had levelled an early own goal with a neat finish from Hayley Wood on eight minutes but Stoney with a double and an Aluko hat-trick on 17, 28 and 41 minute sandwiched a strike from the very hardworking Susi to leave Chelsea 7-1 ahead at the break after a quality display of swift passing and great team play. Charlotte Whitley, in the Millers goal, made four outstanding saves in the half and Chelsea also had a goal disallowed in an all action 45 minutes.
The second period was less productive in terms of goals, for which credit is due to the hard pressed and brave Rotherham defence who blocked numerous shots and never resorted to illegal tactics to stem the blue tide. Indeed only another own goal added to the Chelsea total until the last minute when debutant Drew Spence made the score 9-1.
Rebecca Jane, a star of the England under-17s in the recent World Cup, was given a half hour on the field as well and was very effective. Rotherham never gave up and it took two great saves from England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain in one-on-one situations in the final minutes to prevent the visitors from returning up the M1 with a second goal.
The whole game was played on a surface which favoured pacy attackers with good balance and instant control and Chelsea had these skills in abundance. Above all, credit goes to both teams, their respective managers and the referee and his assistants for contributing to an entertaining match in very tricky conditions - and the ground staff for preparing a pitch which stood up brilliantly to the elements.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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