Early arrivals for Chelsea’s Conti Cup clash with Spurs on Wednesday night were treated to the surreal spectacle of Stamford the Lion – the Blues’ mascot – trying his best not to get ink on his fur as he signed the book of congratulation to Claire Rafferty, one of the club’s most loyal servants.
She was made captain for the night to mark 10 years as a Chelsea Lady, and inspired the Blues to a comfortable 4-1 victory which, if you add in near-misses and woodwork strikes, could easily have been 10-1.
With Becky Spencer in goal, Maria Thorisdottir drafted in as the central commander of a back three, and Maren Mjelde perched in the ‘Makelele’ role just in front, the Blues produced a dynamic, fluid and attacking formation, spearheaded up front by Ramona Bachmann and Fran Kirby.
Spurs defended doggedly, and nearly half an hour had elapsed before Hannah Blundell broke the deadlock, the sheer forced of her shot pushing Toni-Anne Wayne back on her heels in the Tottenham goal, where she was unable to stop the ball flying over her head and into the net.
A minute before the break, Kirby made it 2-0, with Drew Spence adding a third in the 58th minute before a comical lapse involving a Millie Bright back pass to Spencer presented Spurs sub Lauren Pickett an unlikely consolation goal.
The three-goal lead was restored by Spence with 11 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile shot after shot grazed the posts or slammed against the crossbar as the Chelsea Ladies did Raff proud with a non-stop onslaught.
Now the Ladies’ attention turns to the visit of Man City at 6.30pm on Sunday in the league – a crucial match in the title race. There should be a terrific buzz at Kingsmeadow. Ticket information: http://www.chelseafc.com/teams/chelsea-ladies/ticket-information.html