Chelsea general manager Paul Green said his side need to keep “rolling out the wins” after they extended their run of Women’s Super League victories to four in a row despite a much-changed starting line-up against Brighton.
Second-half goals by Beth England and Pernille Harder gave the visitors their second win in four days following their impressive Champions League triumph at Paris St-Germain, drawing the reigning champions level with Arsenal and Manchester United at the top of the table.
“We didn’t get back from Paris until six o’clock on Friday morning, so we had one day’s training,” said Green after Chelsea joined the top three on 12 points, with a trip to United to come at the start of November.
“We said in the pre-match meeting that we would have to be very patient because Brighton would be stubborn and hard to break down.
“We’ve got to make those changes. We’ve just got to get the selections right, keep the momentum going and keep rolling out the wins.”
Defender Eve Perisset hit the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the box shortly after England put Chelsea ahead, but Brighton had several good chances in front of a crowd of 3,626 – a new record WSL attendance at Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium.
The Seagulls, who sit 10th on three points, were indebted to goalkeeper Megan Walsh for denying England and Charles with excellent saves during the first half.
Chelsea earn hard-fought win
Having watched Arsenal and United win earlier on Sunday, Chelsea knew three points would be vital to avoid losing ground on the early leaders, who still have a game in hand on them.
The evening had begun with players and staff taking an uncertain look at the sodden turf during a series of pitch inspections following thunder, lightning and downpours in the late afternoon.
The conditions meant the ball rolled and bounced unpredictably, making both sides’ willingness to take risks and play out from the back all the more admirable, with Brighton’s Victoria Williams and Emma Kullberg notable for their nerveless composure.
Green was wary of Brighton’s tendency to trouble Chelsea in recent seasons, earning a point from this contest in January and ending their opponents’ 33-match unbeaten run with a 2-1 win in February 2021.
There was no shortage of confidence from Brighton from the off. On a pitch that would have tempted many defenders to indulge in long balls, Williams and her fellow defenders were dedicated to neat, composed passing – often under considerable pressure.
Walsh was a loud and assured presence and Albion had their goalkeeper to thank on several occasions, showing alertness to paw Charles’ header behind from a free-kick and tipping England’s shot over the crossbar when it seemed destined for the roof of the net.
The start of the second half began in end-to-end fashion before the classy England swept in on the line after another display of brave defending by Brighton almost kept them out.
“I can’t fault anyone’s effort, attitude and application – I’m really pleased,” said Seagulls manager Hope Powell.
“I’m desperate for them to do well. The most important thing is that we create the chances and we did that today. We’re desperately unlucky not to have got something out of the game.”
Brighton can take encouragement from a performance that bodes well for their home game against Tottenham on 30 October, while Chelsea host Vllaznia in the Champions League and Aston Villa in the WSL before a potential top-of-the-table showdown at United on 6 November.
- 12BanceSubstituted forParkat 79′minutes
- 10OlmeBooked at 86mins
- 11TerlandSubstituted forCarterat 70′minutes
- 7CarterSubstituted forErikssonat 68′minutes
- 17FlemingSubstituted forIngleat 82′minutes
- 21CharlesSubstituted forReitenat 67′minutes
- 19Rytting Kaneryd
- 9EnglandSubstituted forKerrat 72′minutes
- 10JamesSubstituted forHarderat 73′minutes
- Abigail Byrne
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 0, Chelsea Women 2.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 0, Chelsea Women 2.
Attempt missed. Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Ève Périsset with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Emma Kullberg.
Foul by Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea Women).
Danielle Carter (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Park Ye-Eun (Brighton and Hove Albion Women).
Attempt missed. Aniek Nouwen (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Sophie Ingle with a headed pass following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Kayleigh Green.
Pernille Harder (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Victoria Williams (Brighton and Hove Albion Women).
Julia Olme (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion Women 0, Chelsea Women 2. Pernille Harder (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Sam Kerr.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Sophie Ingle replaces Jessie Fleming.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Park Ye-Eun replaces Libby Bance.
Attempt missed. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Erin Cuthbert.
Foul by Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women).
Lee Geum-Min (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.