The Blues had to be patient on the South Coast, but three goals in the space of 12 second-half minutes helped us to a victory our dominant performance deserved.
For a while, it looked like Marie Hourihan, one of several ex-Chelsea players in the Seagulls' ranks, was going to frustrate us after making several high-quality saves, including tipping Ji So-Yun's early strike onto the crossbar from our first attack of the match.
However, just as at West Ham last month, patience was the order of the day for Emma Hayes's side and our reward finally came just past the hour mark when Magdalena Eriksson flicked home a Karen Carney free-kick to put us in front. Substitute Bethany England headed in our second soon after and then Ji, who had set up that goal, tidily finished an excellent move in the 77th minute to put us 3-0 up.
England added our fourth in stoppage time with a clinical finish which was an emphatic way to bring up our seventh win in a row in all competitions which leaves us five points behind the league leaders.
This was our third meeting with Brighton this season, with the Blues winning at home in both the WSL and the Continental Tyres League Cup, and Hayes opted to revert back to the same 11 players who started our league win over Reading a week earlier. That meant Hedvig Lindahl returned between the sticks behind a back four of Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright – making her 100th start for the club – Eriksson and Jonna Andersson. In midfield, Sophie Ingle and Drew Spence were the deepest of our five, with Ramona Bachmann, Ji and Carney deployed in attacking roles. Erin Cuthbert was selected to lead the line a day after finding out her Scotland side will meet England at next summer's World Cup in France.
Only the finest of margins denied Chelsea a dream start to this contest, as we began on the front foot and immediately looked to take the game to the home side. Ingle was quick to pounce on a loose ball outside the Brighton box and she laid the ball off to Ji, who steadied herself before letting fly with a powerful strike that Hourihan superbly tipped onto the bar. The ball bounced down but, crucially, the referee adjudged it to be the wrong side of the goal-line as far as we were concerned.
Any expectation of this being an afternoon of one-way traffic quickly evaporated as Brighton responded with a brief spell of pressure which saw Whelan force an excellent save from Lindahl and then head an Umotong cross wide of the post.
However, the best opportunities were being crafted at the other end, with Hourihan the busier of the two goalkeepers and after one regulation save to keep out a half-volley from Spence, she was indebted to the woodwork once again as Ingle crashed a right-footed shot against the bar. With the Blues dominating possession and keeping the home side penned back, it would have been just reward for our efforts.
Both Ingle and Spence went close again as the half drew to a close, while there was also a highlight reel moment produced by Cuthbert as her drag-back into a nutmeg left Gibbons red faced, although there was nothing to show for it as we went in at the break goalless despite dominating possession and forcing Hourihan into making five saves.
Having been embarrassed by Cuthbert at the end of the first half, Gibbons began the second by making a vital, last-ditch challenge to deny the Scot a clear shot at goal as we continued exactly where we left off before the interval. Our No22 did manage to break free into a shooting lane soon after on two occasions, but both times Hourihan was on hand to make the save. It was becoming a familiar theme on this chilly afternoon on the South Coast.
With the deadlock yet to be broken, the game began to open up and there were big chances at either end, as first Ji fired wide after being teed up by Carney and then Ellie Brazil struck the outside of the post for the home side. By this point, Hayes had seen enough, introducing England for the final half-hour – and the move would pay immediate dividends with three goals in quick succession.
We'd had plenty of chances to deliver from set-pieces out wide and finally one paid off, as Carney's cross was met on the volley by Eriksson and the ball trickled into the far corner of the net. It was nothing less than we'd deserved and straight after the goal the Blues boss shuffled her pack by bringing on Riley in place of the skipper.
Having waited so long for our first, the second arrived just four minutes later – and this goal was every bit as classy as the first had been scrappy. Ji's cross from deep was an absolute peach, clipped over the Brighton defence for England to place a header over Hourihan, and suddenly a tight game had turned into an almost certain victory for the visitors. Just to make sure, Hayes added another defensive player to her side as Jess Carter came on for Bachmann.
The right-back had an immediate impact as her cross was turned goalwards by Riley, only for Hourihan to pull off yet another outstanding save. We went even closer from the resulting corner when Ingle's cushioned header was turned off the line and against the bar by Gibbons, but there was little the Brighton defence could do to prevent our next attack adding to the scoreline.
Riley was involved in the build-up, playing a low cross towards England which the forward dummied, which allowed Ji to take the ball in her stride and place a low, right-footed finish past the keeper. This time there was no doubt it was game over, but there was still time for England to bury our fourth after being found by Blundell's pull-back. We marched on to a seventh win on the bounce, each of which has been achieved with a clean sheet.
Our final fixture of 2018 takes place on Wednesday evening at Cheshunt FC as we take on Tottenham Hotspur to close out our Continental Tyres League Cup group campaign, with the Blues already guaranteed top spot and a place in the quarter-finals.
Brighton (4-4-2) Hourihan; Barton, L Rafferty (c), Williams, Gibbons; Le Tissier, Peplow (Brett 80), Green, A Whelan; Brazil (Buet 65), Umotong
Unused subs Gillett, Perry, Legg, Simpkins, Natkiel
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Lindahl; Blundell, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson; Ingle, Spence (England 60); Bachmann (Carter 70), Ji, Carney (c) (Riley 66); Cuthbert
Unused subs Telford, Cooper, Bailey, Engman
Scorers Eriksson 65, England 69, 90+1, Ji 77
Booked Eriksson 59