Hayes: We have improved

Emma Hayes was pleased with Chelsea Ladies’ performance against Manchester City, but was left to rue the missed chances which prevented the turning of one point into three.

The WSL1’s top-two sides met at Kingsmeadow on Thursday night in front of a crowd of over 2,500, and the lack of goals did not detract from the quality of football on display.

The Blues, who trail City by two points at the top of the standings, produced an excellent performance in front of our home fans, but there was no way through the visitors’ defence.

‘I thought the team played really well,’ said the manager. ‘We dominated possession and we created the better chances, but we just lacked that clinical edge to finish the game off. It was a great game and a superb effort by my players.

‘We put them under pressure and really penned them in throughout the second half. They looked tired towards the end and we just lacked that clear-cut opportunity, but fair play to City – they defended well and that’s why they came out of here with a point.

‘Overall I’m pleased and this result is not the end of the world – it’s a point gained. I said I wanted my team to improve [from the Continental Tyres Cup semi-final in January] and they’ve done that.

‘I don’t think City have faced as difficult a game as that in a long time. We’ll go into the game on the 24th with no fear. Bring it on.

‘We showed we’re one of the top teams in Europe and we played like that in this game. These are the top two teams in England and games between us will always be close. We feel confident we’re going to stay with them the whole way in the title race.’

New England manager Phil Neville was among those in attendance at Kingsmeadow and Hayes felt two of her young English players certainly made a good impression on the big stage.

‘Some of the youngsters deserve credit,’ she said. ‘Hannah Blundell and Drew Spence are training and playing in a top environment every day and they’re producing performances like that. They are England quality players and I’m sure he would have seen that.

‘Phil is a great guy and we had a nice chat. I’m here to help him and I think he’ll do great in the job. He’s a football guy and it’s a fresh start for everyone.’

  • On Sunday, Chelsea Ladies have a Women’s FA Cup tie away to London Bees at 2pm.
  • The two clubs’ development teams play at the same venue, the Hive, beforehand. That game starts at 12 noon.