Women beaten in pre-season opener

Chelsea Women began our pre-season campaign with a narrow defeat to Montpellier on a sweltering evening in the south of France.

Emma Hayes' squad travelled across the Channel on Wednesday to begin a six-day training camp, including matches against Champions League quality opposition in the form of Montpellier and Barcelona

The Blues, of course, got the better of the French side when the two sides met in competitive action last season, securing a 5-1 victory on aggregate, and this time the focus was on fitness and playing ourselves in as we met again at the Domaine de Grammont.

Kick-off was delayed by half an hour due to the heat in Montpellier, with the temperature hitting 36 degrees Celsius shortly before the match began, and two of our new signings were named in the starting line-up as both Sophie Ingle and Jess Carter were part of a strong side.

It was the home team who went in front after 11 minutes through Belgian midfielder Janice Cayman, but the Blues drew level eight minutes after the break through Erin Cuthbert, who raced onto a back pass before finish calmly. The Scot clearly enjoys playing in Montpellier, as she scored her first Champions League goal against the French side in the away leg of our quarter-final tie in March.

However, goals either side of half-time from Clarisse Le Bihan put Montpellier two goals ahead and although a superb goal from Ji So-Yun pulled us back to 3-2, the Blues ended the match with defeat.

Most importantly, though, the players moved a step closer to peak fitness after putting in a big shift against top-quality opposition.

There will be more of that on show when we meet Barcelona in Spain on Sunday night and then it's back to Kingsmeadow next Wednesday for the visit of Juventus.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Lindahl (c) (Durack 60); Bright (Eriksson 60), Mjelde (Engman 60), Ingle; Carter, Ji, Thorisdottir, Andersson (England 60); Cuthbert, Spence (Bachmann 60); Kirby (Carney 60)