LADIES REPORT: CHELSEA 1 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1
Chelsea Ladies were held to a draw in the first game of the FA WSL season after being pegged back by Birmingham City.
The Blues had six new signings on show, with Nicky Davies, Olina Vidarsdottir, Katie Holtham, Edda Gardarsdottir, Eni Aluko and Sofia Jakobsson making their league debuts for the club.
Birmingham started strongly, with Isobel Christiansen having a shot saved inside the first 40 seconds.
The visitors again went close to breaking the deadlock when Jade Moore hit the post with a 12th-minute effort, with follow-up shots from Williams and Jo Potter well blocked by the Chelsea defence.
Sofia Jakobsson was sent through on goal a minute later but saw her effort smothered by Birmingham keeper Hourihan.
Helen Ward was next to go close to opening the scoring when she headed wide a Dunia Susi cross from wide on the right.
The Blues were growing in confidence and opened the scoring just four minutes later.
Drew Spence found Susi down the right-hand side, and the England international's excellent cross was met by Jakobsson, whose first-time effort trickled over the line.
The game was developing into an entertaining contest, and Emily Simpkins almost equalised, firing wide following a Rachel Williams miss-hit shot.
The Birmingham striker, though, made amends soon after and pulled the visitors level just before the half-hour mark, when she sent a right-footed strike into the back of the net from 25 yards via the underside of the crossbar.
Emily Westwood then had the chance to put the visitors in front but Nicky Davies came off her line well to smother at the striker's feet.
Seven minutes before the break, Chelsea skipper Edda Gardarsdottir struck a 30-yard right-footed shot that cannoned back off the crossbar with Hourihan well beaten, but it was Birmingham who should have taken the lead just before the break when the impressive Williams found space in the box to chest down, firing wide with only Davies left to beat.
Chelsea made a change at half time with Claire Rafferty replaing Olina Vidarsdottir in a defensive re-shuffle, and Westwood had the first chance of the second half, shooting wide when well placed on the hour for Birmingham.
Both sides had chances to win the game from then on - Edda Gardarsdottir came closest for Chelsea with a superb 25-yard effort that went the wrong side of the far post after 73 minutes.
Ward then tested Hourihan who made a smart save at her feet with nine minutes remaining.
Williams and substitute Kirsty Linnett could have won it late on for Birmingham but Davies pulled off two terrific saves to ensure that both sides had to settle for a point apiece.
Chelsea (4-3-3): N Davies, Susi, Vidarsdottir (Rafferty h/t), Holtham, Ingle; Gardarsdottir (c), Buet, Spence (Coombs 69); Ward, Aluko (Longhurst 78), Jakobsson.
Unused substitutes: Telford, K Davies, Bleazard, Cole.
Referee J Busby