They may have grabbed an injury-time equaliser to leave Brighton with a point, but Chelsea manager Emma Hayes delivered a damning verdict of her players after their display in Sussex, writes Will Jennings.
A late Adelina Engman strike saved Chelsea’s blushes in a hectic last ten minutes, with the visitors going behind after an Aileen Whelan goal in the 84th minute.
But despite the Finn’s heroics at the 11th hour, Hayes was critical of her players and called for them to take greater accountability in future Barclays FA WSL matches.
“We need to take a little bit more responsibility, and I’ve said that to the players,” she said.
“We created opportunities but haven’t taken our chances and, yes, that’s disappointing.
“It’s still early season and there’s a long way to go, and we know there’s still plenty we need to do on the training pitch this week.
“As I said though, we must take responsibility when we’re out on the pitch and as much as I will ask more of myself, the players need to do similar.
“Credit to Brighton, because they made it very difficult for us, especially when they got lower in their defensive block – but that wasn’t a surprise to us.
“The quality in every team in this division has gone up this year, and we have to be ready to deal with these sorts of challenges when they’re put in front of us.”
Gutted with the result today. We should be better (and personally wasn’t my best performance). Lucky to come away with a point. Credit to Brighton for a tough game. Thank you to the fans for your support 💙 We dust off and go again 👊🏻— Bethany England (@Bethany_Eng15) September 15, 2019
The result meant Chelsea fell off the pace of current league leaders Manchester City, who cruised to a convincing 2-0 victory at Reading thanks to a Pauline Bremer double.
For Brighton, Engman’s late intervention saw them draw their second game of the season, ahead of travelling to Meadow Park in a fortnight to take on Joe Montemurro’s reigning champions Arsenal in a challenge that will prove a serious test of their Barclays FA WSL credentials.
And despite their failure to hold on for the win, manager Hope Powell was full of praise for the Seagulls’ performance.
“I’m really pleased with the way my girls conducted themselves because they couldn’t have given any more,” the former England boss said.
“Just look at that Chelsea team – they’ve got international players in pretty much every position and I don’t think anyone would have backed us to get anything from the game.
“We followed the game plan to a tee, and to come within a whisker of winning it shows the progress this group is making.
“Even when we were having to dig in and be resilient – we were more than happy to let them have the ball and concede space – the desire was in us to want to play when we had it, and we showed that in the second half especially.
“We’ll take the point and look to the next challenge, because the competition is now tougher than ever and we’re going to have put in plenty of this type of performance if we want to achieve our goals.”