Picture: Chelsea FC It’s a rare day when Chelsea’s women and men BOTH win 3-1 at home, on the same afternoon and in the kind of incessant monsoon rain that shrieks ‘climate change’. But it happened on Saturday, with the women’s kick-off time against Hope Powell’s Brighton & Hove Albion brought forward to 11.30am
Picture: Chelsea FC
It’s a rare day when Chelsea’s women and men BOTH win 3-1 at home, on the same afternoon and in the kind of incessant monsoon rain that shrieks ‘climate change’.
But it happened on Saturday, with the women’s kick-off time against Hope Powell’s Brighton & Hove Albion brought forward to 11.30am to allow fans – and there were just under 2,500 at Kingsmeadow – to leg it to Stamford Bridge as well.
Like Chelsea, Brighton have reached the semis of last season’s delayed FA Cup. Their tie is against Arsenal… at Arsenal. Few give them much hope of getting through, but if this performance against a full-strength Blues side is anything to go by, there may yet be an upset.
Powell is the English women’s manager Emma Hayes respects the most. Brighton were the only team to beat Chelsea at Kingsmeadow last season, and the Seagulls’ displays are built around a well-marshalled defence, much like Chelsea’s own.
In the corridors of power at Cobham, Stamford Bridge and Kingsmeadow (it’s a narrow one, just behind the main stand) it is said that if Hayes was to suddenly up sticks and leave, Powell will be invited in.
Anyway, Chelsea took the lead after 10 minutes, with Fran Kirby teeing up player-of-the-match Guro Reiten to fire the ball with such ferocity at Megan Walsh that the keeper got something on it, but could only redirect its flight netwards.
Reiten played a blinder, right until the 83rd minute when the gaffer gave her a rest and let Jonna Andersson have a run out.
The Norwegian pelted down the left wing in her customary style. Reiten doesn’t accelerate… she sneaks. She lowers her shoulder, hunkers down a little, then steals quietly away in top gear before the nearest defender twigs that she’s on the move.
A minute after the goal she was at it again, haring away to chase down a ball that others might have thought lost, and supplying a cross that gave Kirby a headed chance.
It was 2-0 with 10 minutes to go before the break; Sam Kerr bravely going for the successful header in a crowded area, and leaving defender Felicity Gibbons sprawling on the ground.
The crowd expected more of the same in the second half, so it was a wake-up on 48 minutes when Danielle Carter, the pick of Albion’s players, turned and shot past Ann-Katrin Berger.
It set up a tense finish, with Brighton threatening to level on several occasions. But on 80 minutes, Kirby unselfishly set up sub Beth England to wallop the ball into the net for 3-1.
Next up, a crazy five days with Wolfsburg and Leicester both visiting Kingsmeadow.