WOMEN'S WEEKLY

It's been a difficult end to the season for the Chelsea Ladies, but there were enough positives to take from a final-day defeat to offer encouragement for next season...

Last Sunday saw the Chelsea Ladies play their final game of the season, and it was a third defeat in four games for the Blues as we went down 3-2 at home to Lincoln.

We were made to pay the price for two lapses in concentration either side of the break, and when the visitors made it 3-0 midway through the second half our task became an ominous one.

However, there were certainly positives to take from the manner in which we finished the game, as goals from Helen Lander and Dunia Susi brought a dose of respectability to the scoreline.

The defeat ensured that we ended the season in sixth place, a respectable finish, but one that will be seen as a disappointment given our impressive early season form, which saw us reach the FA Cup Final, only to suffer penalty shoot-out heartache against Birmingham City.

After seeing off Doncaster Belles on the opening day of the season, a defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates proved to be the only serious setback over the course of the first two months of the campaign.

There were notable wins against the likes of Everton and Liverpool prior to the defeat in the FA Cup Final, but the manner of that loss appeared to dent the confidence of the whole squad, and it was a blow which, in truth, we struggled to recover from.

Successive league defeats against Birmingham, Arsenal and Lincoln followed, and while a 2-0 away win at Liverpool appeared to be a sign that our fortunes were changing, it was to be Matt Beard's final game in charge as he stepped down with immediate effect.

The managerial change midway through the season, which saw Emma Hayes take charge, was always going to be a difficult transition as she attempted to implement her own ideas and philosophies while still trying to get the right results.

Her first game in charge brought about a positive turn as a Laura Coombs goal helped us to a 1-0 win over Doncaster Belles, but we were unable to carry that momentum into our next two matches as we lost to both Birmingham and Everton.

Dani Buet's penalty ensured we returned to winning ways away at Bristol in our penultimate fixture, before the season drew to a close with last Sunday's defeat to Lincoln.