“Come on ref, it’s late every time,” appealed 16-year-old Blues striker Emily Murphy as she was clattered by a Charlton defender, writes Jane Grove. “You just got stuck on the beach,” retorted the jovial Robert Massey-Ellis who had been joshing with the players during the fourth round FA Cup tie at the Addicks’ Oakwood ground.
“Come on ref, it’s late every time,” appealed 16-year-old Blues striker Emily Murphy as she was clattered by a Charlton defender, writes Jane Grove.
“You just got stuck on the beach,” retorted the jovial Robert Massey-Ellis who had been joshing with the players during the fourth round FA Cup tie at the Addicks’ Oakwood ground.
The state of the pitch with its uneven surface and scattered sand was a leveller between the full-time Chelsea team which is currently in fourth position in the WSL table and the Championship side made up mostly of part-timers who languish at the foot of the table with only one win in the league so far this season.
“The pitch is a leveller it really is, because you could say ‘oh pass the ball’ but if it is bobbling all over the place and you don’t pass the ball as well, then you have to change the game. You change the game, you then play the way the opposition might play,” said a reflective Emma Hayes, pictured.
The Blues manager said it was a different type of control over the game.
“What you have is your advantage of professionalism and we are used to doing this every day, with the same group of players with the same manager over a long period of time. We know how to prepare for these games, I think it is fair to say, but I never underestimate anyone, it’s not in my nature.”
Hayes said she had taken a risk fielding younger players [internationals like Bethany England remained on the bench and Sam Kerr was rested] but preparation was key to avoid any banana skin moments.
“I’m a top coach, and there ain’t going to be one today. I know that we are prepared.”
Hayes, whose team netted four times during the game and who kept a clean sheet, said it was always a gamble to make changes.
“It’s always a risk when you change a team up but I think this is the best squad I’ve had since I’ve been here; they are more capable more often and if I get a chance to recover players then I’m going to take it.”
Hayes’ squad, who left for Leigh Sports Village this afternoon (Tuesday), face a tougher challenge at Man United tomorrow in the semi-final of the Conti Cup. Match starts at 7.30pm.