Chelsea Ladies suffered their first domestic defeat of the season as well as their first defeat at their new home at Kingsmeadow after a narrow 1-0 loss to Manchester City Women. Chelsea’s quest for an unprecedented quadruple has been denied and City go on to the final of the Continental Tyres Cup and have their own quadruple to chase after.
Emma Hayes again decided to bulk up the centre of midfield and played the 3-5-2 formation she employed versus Arsenal last weekend. Only one change was made from that game with Maria Thorisdottir coming in for Gemma Davison at left wing back. Man City also only made one change from their last fixture with their first choice goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returning to action after injury.
The opening exchanges of the match were cagey and tense as expected with both teams not wanting to give anything away. The breakthrough in the first half in fact came directly after Chelsea had the best chance of the match. Some fantastic quick interplay ended with Ji squaring the ball to Kirby who rounded the keeper and poked home thinking she had given Chelsea lead. Miraculously, City captain Steph Houghton appeared from nowhere to clear the ball off the line. That intervention proved vital as a mere 30 seconds later Manchester City were down the other end of the pitch; Jill Scott managed to cross the ball in from the right and City’s newest signing Nadia Nadim was positioned perfectly to get her second goal in her second game as she calmly slotted it in.
The goal gave City the confidence to control the proceedings for the rest of the first half and nearly doubled the lead on 40 minutes when Nikita Parris was through on goal only for Lindahl to quickly come off her line and block the effort.
The second half saw Chelsea up their intensity as they went in search of an equaliser. Throwing numbers forward however meant that City could find space on the counter attack and the first 10 minutes of the half saw City nearly score on another two occasions. As the half went on, Chelsea were getting closer and closer to drawing level. Firstly, Jonna Andersson, who came on for her second appearance for the Blues, was a threat down the left and put in a wonderful cross. Hannah Blundell connected with the ball only for Bardsley to make a fantastic save. With 93 minutes on the clock, Millie Bright was presented with a wonderful opportunity to take the game into extra time but she somehow could only hit the ball straight at a grateful Bardsley.
In the end it wasn’t to be for Chelsea and they will have to turn their focus to the Champions League and to overhauling Manchester City’s lead at the top of the WSL 1 table.
Manchester City will play Arsenal in the final of the Continental Cup after two late goals saw them overcome a deficit to win 3-2.
Player of the Match: Nikita Parris (Manchester City) – Remained a threat at all times, running into the channels and keeping Chelsea’s centre backs preoccupied . Was unlucky not to score on more than one occasion.