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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Sunday, 6 April 2008 18:28 UK

Buoyant Everton overpower Bristol

By Tony Leighton

Rachel Unitt
Unitt opened the scoring for Everton just before half-time

Everton beat Bristol Academy 3-0 to close the gap on the Premier League's runaway leaders Arsenal to 14 points.

At the other end of the table Cardiff City's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea left the Bluebirds on the brink of relegation.

In stark contrast to their male counterparts, who reached the FA Cup final, Cardiff face an uphill struggle to avoid the drop.

On a weekend badly hit by the weather, all three of the other scheduled top flight games were postponed.

Everton 3-0 Bristol Academy

A comfortable victory lifted second in the table Everton five points clear of third-placed Bristol - and the Toffees have three games in hand on Arsenal and four on Academy.

Rachel Unitt set the home side on the way to victory, the England left back rifling home an 18 yard shot four minutes before half-time.

Four minutes after the break England Under-23 striker Natasha Dowie doubled the lead with a neat finish after a tremendous solo run.

And 10 minutes later another England international, midfielder Jill Scott, completed the scoring when she poked home the rebound after her first shot had been blocked.

Everton's victory was their seventh in succession in the league but, despite their games in hand on Arsenal, the task of overtaking the leaders is a mighty one.

If they are to have any hope of snatching the title they will have to beat the Gunners in next Sunday's crunch meeting at the leaders' Borehamwood headquarters.

Cardiff City 0-1 Chelsea

A goal after just five minutes by England striker Eni Aluko, who took advantage of a defensive mix-up to shoot home, was enough to give Chelsea the points.

What was only the Blues' second win in seven league outings was tarnished, however, when substitute Emma Whitter was sent off 12 minutes from time.

Whitter, who had been on the pitch only five minutes, was shown the red card for using foul and abusive language.

Chelsea's win lifted them one place to seventh while Cardiff remained firmly in the relegation zone and looking certain to drop out of the top flight.

With just three matches left the Bluebirds are eight points behind Birmingham City - who have five games remaining.

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