Chelsea achieved a resounding 7-0 Continental Cup victory over Yeovil Town at a damp Kingsmeadow on Wednesday night under the floodlights, a game illuminated by a Drew Spence double which included an unstoppable airborne header.
Lesser souls might have held back, but she launched herself forward like a cannonball in the 19th minute, meeting a cross from Blues captain Karen Carney and sending the ball flying past the helpless Beth Howard in the Yeovil goal and practically through the netting.
For old lags among the 916-strong crowd, it brought back memories of Peter Osgood’s flying header from the 1970 FA Cup replay at Old Trafford (it’s on YouTube, kids), when Charlie Cooke’s cross was buried in the net, paving the way for a famous victory over Leeds.
Chelsea Women were already 1-0 up, the goal coming after a minute and a half when Jonna Andersson galloped down the left, outflanked the Yeovil defender, and centred for lone striker Adelina Engman to score.
The Blues were 4-0 up by half-time, with Beth England being in the right place at the right time to hit home another Carney cross in the 26th minute, and Nicola Cousins adding an unfortunate own goal shortly before the break, attempting to clear the ball during another Chelsea attack.
In the second half, the one-way traffic continued. Poor Yeovil failed to force a single save out of Lizzie Durack in the Chelsea goal as wave after wave of Blues onslaughts carved up the visitors, whose late arrival because of heavy traffic had forced a 15-minute delay to kick-off.
It was 5-0 after 64 minutes, with Spence claiming her second from close range, meeting an Engman cross. Twelve minutes later it was 6-0 as sub Erin Cuthbert fired a free kick home.
And there was still time for England to get a second – and Chelsea’s seventh of the night – converting a through ball from Cuthbert in the 78th minute.
Manager Emma Hayes was able to give starts to a trio of players who have been out through injury, and Deanna Cooper, Jade Bailey and Anita Asante all performed well, giving them a significant confidence boost on their way back to full match fitness, and giving Hayes further team selection options for the second half of the season, after the Christmas lull.
It puts Chelsea through to the quarter-finals of the Continental Cup, irrespective of the result away to Spurs on Wednesday night next week.
After the match, Spence was typically generous in her praise of her teammates – particularly the three returners who were given a chance to prove themselves by Hayes. “We set out to keep up the high standards of our win at the weekend,” she said. “And a 7-0 win is a good way to end the year [at home].
“We take every competition seriously; we haven’t won this trophy yet, but it’s something we want to win. We’re really happy with how we’re playing, we’re picking up wins.
“All the girls that came in today did well, they worked hard during the week. Obviously everyone can’t play every week, so it’s nice for them to get a game today.”
Chelsea can close to within five points of top-placed Arsenal in the Women’s Super League if they win away at Brighton on Sunday, in their last league match of 2018.