WOMEN'S WEEKLY

Posted on: Thu 21 Mar 2013

Chelsea Ladies were in FA Cup action last Sunday, but we were unable to reproduce the type of form we showed in last season's competition - when we reached the final - suffering an early exit at the hands of Lincoln Ladies.

The official Chelsea website caught up with assistant manager Paul Green, who reflected on the team's performance and looked ahead to a return to his former club this weekend…

It was a match played in treacherous conditions at the Sincil Bank Stadium, with Jess Clarke scoring the only goal of the game midway through the second half.

Emma Hayes' Chelsea side rallied late on, but we were unable to score the goal which would have sent the game into extra-time.

Green, who recently joined the club from Doncaster, felt our failure to get to grips with the condition of the pitch early on contributed to the result.

'We struggled to adapt to the conditions and ultimately that's what cost us,' he tells the official Chelsea website. 'In many respects, Lincoln adapted quicker, but the pitch was heavy, sticky and wet, and the game was close to being called off.

'When we arrived we could see the pitch was in a state, and in one goalmouth it was heavily under water, but both teams were keen for the match to be played.

'As a spectacle, it wasn't much of a game, it was more of a battle, but that's football. It was the same for both teams so you have to give them a bit of credit.

'Our performance got better as the game went on, and I felt we finished the stronger of the two teams.

'We had a couple of good chances towards the end to force extra-time. Eniola Aluko went through, but Karen Bardsley made a good save for them with about five minutes to go, and while there were positives in the way we finished the game, there are lessons to be learnt.'

It was a new-look Chelsea side in comparison to the one that finished the previous season, with a number of new signings, including captain Edda Gardarsdottir, making their debuts for the club.

Green knows it will take time for relationships and a level of understanding between players on the pitch to blossom, but felt we weren't helped by our preparations for the game.

'Sometimes, if you come across a pitch which isn't a bowling green, you need to adapt a little bit quicker than we did, but we had a number of new players playing together for the first time,' he explains.

'You could tell Lincoln have been together for a couple of years, while for us, it was the first time we'd played together in a competitive game.

'Our preparations had been hampered slightly by having 12 girls away with their countries at the Algarve Cup and the Cyprus Cup, so that didn't help, but there were positives.

'Nicola  Davies did well in goal for us and Edda was the captain, but it was our first game together and I think it told.'

Fortunately, we don't have to wait too long for an opportunity to bounce back, as we make the trip back up north on Saturday to face Doncaster Rovers Belles, Green's former club, in the group stages of the Continental Cup.

'The first league game is on 14 April against Birmingham, but we have a Continental Cup group game on Saturday away at Doncaster, where we'll be looking for a reaction to last week's defeat, and we're hoping to get back on track with a positive result,' he says.

'It's my old club and Katie Holpham's old club, so it will be interesting for us going back up there. Obviously I've got a lot of memories from some good times, but we'll be going back looking to get the three points. The girls have looked sharp in training so we're feeling confident.'