Erin Cuthbert was Chelsea Women's two-goal hero against Arsenal at the weekend and the Scottish international believes her performance vindicated the hard work put in on the training ground.
The Blues closed the gap at the top of the WSL standings with a 2-1 victory at the home of the league leaders, who subsequently had their spot at the top of the standings taken by Manchester City following Sunday's fixtures.
While the win owed much to an outstanding all-round display by Emma Hayes' side, who have now won 11 matches on the spin to move within touching distance of the top two, there's no doubting Cuthbert's showing caught the eye of most observers.
She climbed above Arsenal centre-half Louise Quinn, who is around nine inches taller than Erin Cuthbert, to head our opener and then brilliantly fired in our second on the volley to score what proved to be the winning goal.
'I never score headers,' said Cuthbert, who took her tally for the season to seven. 'I did one in training, actually, on Saturday and it didn't go in, the keeper made a good save. Emma said to me, “It's going to come on Sunday, trust me.” And do you know what? Emma never fails to deliver. I really appreciate the confidence and trust she has in me.
'I practice a lot in training. I've not been scoring a lot of late, it's a lot of pressure on a striker or forward player to score goals. I've been trying to assist, but I've been missing that part of my game – scoring – so it was nice to get two goals.
'I've got to keep working hard. For me everything I show and do on the pitch is actually done on the training pitch. I'm replicating things I've done there. And I'm learning a lot off Emma defensively and tactically. So I've just got to keep my feet on the ground, and stay injury free.'
Hayes was full of praise for Cuthbert after the game, saying a manager dreams of having players like her, which certainly went down well with the 20-year-old.
'She never tells me that,' laughed the Scot, who has now headed to La Manga in Spain with her national side at the start of this World Cup year. 'She always keeps me on my toes, telling me how it is. She's brutally honest at times – even if she knows I don't like it. She's very fair but tough with me, and that's the way I like a manager, and she's really developing me. I've seen a massive difference in myself in the past two years.'
As for the title race, which many pundits believe this victory puts us firmly back in, Cuthbert is taking a more cautious approach. Our next game, a week on Sunday, is at Kingsmeadow against a Birmingham City side who are just behind us in fourth sport.
'We could actually win every single game until the end of the season, and it's still not enough for a place in the Champions League,' she said, with both Manchester City and Arsenal ahead of us in the two qualification spots.
'I just know that we can control everything we can, and we are on a great run right now, and I want to keep that up. After the international break we have a big run of fixtures as well, a lot of games coming thick and fast, so people can drop points. That's why we have the squad, it’s for a reason.
'There is no pressure on us. When we were league leaders last year, we felt the pressure. I felt it, especially as a young player. It's nice for us to be relaxed and in a chasing position. We will enjoy that and embrace everything that comes from that.'
Chelsea Women are next in action with a home WSL game v Birmingham on Sunday 27 January. Click for tickets