Brighton 0-0 Chelsea: Emma Hayes’ side miss chance to close gap on WSL leaders Arsenal

Brighton 0-0 Chelsea: Emma Hayes’ side miss chance to close gap on WSL leaders Arsenal

by Emily Smith
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Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said she didn’t know if it was “a point gained or two dropped” after her side were held by Brighton in the Women’s Super League.

The Blues, who started the day four points behind leaders Arsenal, dominated possession but could not find a breakthrough from their 26 attempts.

Brighton withstood the pressure and defended resolutely, with goalkeeper Megan Walsh making a number of saves.

Erin Cuthbert also hit the crossbar to sum up Chelsea’s frustration.

Chelsea, who were playing for the first time in the league since 11 December after three games were called off because of Covid, missed the chance to narrow the gap on the Gunners.

“These are weird times – these are Covid times,” Hayes told BBC Sport. “It’s a wide-open race, I’ve felt that all along. I know all the other teams feel the same way.”

Following a run in which they scored in 59 consecutive WSL matches, this is the first time Chelsea have failed to score in consecutive league games since October 2018.

“Well played to Brighton but we’ve come here before and not played as well as that,” said the Blues manager.

“We played well today. If a chance goes in from the first-half dominance I think it’s a different outcome but a team like Brighton grows in confidence within the game.

“We had one-on-ones and we hit the bar. These are great situations but we didn’t execute and that’s why it’s a point rather than three.”

‘We showed we can compete’Chelsea have failed to score in consecutive WSL games for the first time since October 2018Despite making it seven successive games without scoring themselves, the result means Brighton put an end to their run of six consecutive defeats in all competitions.

Brighton manager Hope Powell said: “It comes down to hard work and honesty. The girls weren’t satisfied with their performances the last few weeks, we talked about pride in the badge and consistency and today we showed that, it was more about pride in our performance.

“We knew it was going to be a fight and probably wouldn’t be pretty, but it shows that on our day we can compete.”

The first real chance of the game fell to the hosts, with Danielle Carter’s long-rage effort drawing an impressive save from Ann-Katrin Berger.

Chelsea were playing without the WSL’s top scorer Sam Kerr, who is on international duty with Australia at the Women’s Asian Cup.

They created plenty of chances and came closest to an opener on 25 minutes when Pernille Harder made a clever run in behind the Brighton defence, but both Fran Kirby and Guro Reiten could not get enough on the end of her cross at the far post.

Kirby was through on goal and had a chance to make amends late in the first half, but she side-footed her effort too early allowing Walsh to make the low save.

That wasted chance summed up the Blues’ first half, they dominated possession but managed only two shots on target from their 10 attempts on goal.

It was much the same after the break, Kirby twice went close before an unmarked Erin Cuthbert blasted her effort wide of Walsh’s post from inside the box.

Cuthbert was left with her head in her hands not long after when she thought Chelsea had finally found a breakthrough, but her powerful shot from inside the box ricocheted off the crossbar.

After Manchester United’s win over Tottenham, Chelsea slipped to third in the WSL, four points behind Arsenal after the Gunners earned a late draw against Manchester City in the evening match.

Relive coverage of today’s matches in the Women’s Super LeagueLine-upsBrighton WomenFormation 3-4-3

1Walsh

5Kerkdijk20Williams17Kullberg

2Koivisto6Le Tissier8Connolly15Green

10Kaagman18Carter7Whelan

1Walsh5KerkdijkSubstituted forSymondsat 63’minutes20Williams17Kullberg2Koivisto6Le Tissier8Connolly15Green10KaagmanSubstituted forZigiotti Olmeat 78’minutes18CarterSubstituted forBrazilat 90+2’minutes7WhelanSubstitutes3Gibbons4Bowman12Bance16Brazil19Simpkins21Zigiotti Olme22Robinson24Symonds40StartupChelsea WomenFormation 3-4-3

30Berger

7Carter4Bright3Nouwen

22Cuthbert24Spence25Andersson11Reiten

17Fleming23Harder14Kirby

30Berger7Carter4Bright3Nouwen22Cuthbert24SpenceSubstituted forEnglandat 82’minutes25Andersson11ReitenSubstituted forCharlesat 70’minutes17Fleming23HarderBooked at 33mins14KirbySubstitutes1Musovic5Ingle9England21Charles27Abdullina28TelfordReferee:Kirsty Dowle

Attendance:1,743

Live TextMatch ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 0, Chelsea Women 0.

Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 0, Chelsea Women 0.

Foul by Bethany England (Chelsea Women).

Maya Le Tissier (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Aileen Whelan.

Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Aileen Whelan.

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Ellie Brazil replaces Danielle Carter.

Attempt saved. Danielle Carter (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by Bethany England (Chelsea Women).

Maya Le Tissier (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jonna Andersson (Chelsea Women).

Danielle Carter (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Bethany England (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pernille Harder with a cross.

Attempt saved. Pernille Harder (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Pernille Harder.

Attempt blocked. Niamh Charles (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Emma Koivisto.

Substitution, Chelsea Women. Bethany England replaces Drew Spence.

Attempt missed. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Julia Zigiotti Olme replaces Inessa Kaagman.

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