Analysis

Emma Hayes full of pride despite Birmingham defeat

After an enthralling game against Birmingham City, Emma Hayes was proud of her Chelsea Women side but ultimately frustrated as we were beaten by a last-minute goal.

Two weeks on from recording our best result of the season at Arsenal, the Blues saw our 11-game winning streak snapped as we suffered a first defeat since October.

Erin Cuthbert was on target twice, giving us the lead early on and then equalising in the final 10 minutes, but a late strike from former Chelsea forward Ellen White gave the visitors a win which didn’t look on the cards for much of the game, as we dominated for long spells.

‘It was a great game of football, two very competitive teams and it could have gone either way,’ said Hayes after the match. ‘Today that fell to the opposition.

‘The game after the international break is always hard and we looked a little leggy as a result of that. We started the game well, went 1-0 up, but we lacked a bit of composure in the right moments.

Read - Women's report: Chelsea 2 Birmingham City 3

‘Once we were chasing the game... listen, I'm proud of my team. In our attempt to win the game from 2-1 behind, we should have won it as we dominated in the last stage, but we made a poor decision in the final third, turned over, and they came down and won the game 3-2.

‘I don't think they could repeat their two goals in the second half if it happens a million times over, but well played to Birmingham.

‘The game got too stretched, but I have to credit the opposition – they played well, took their chances, which they didn't get a lot of, and they're the most clinical team in the league.

‘I thought we had good moments in the game and we had bad moments. It was very up and down. The last 20 minutes we went for it, and as a result of that we've lost.

‘We've been playing well, we were on a good run, and it just wasn't our day – but not through lack of trying.’
 

With a big week to come, starting at Everton in the FA Cup on Sunday and with a pair of matches against Manchester City, Hayes provided a welcome update on the fitness of defender Millie Bright, who was absent against Birmingham.

‘Millie picked up a knock against Reading, played against Arsenal and hasn't quite recovered from it. She'll be back next week,’ confirmed the manager, before discussing our target for the remainder of the league campaign.

‘Definitely,’ was her response when asked if our title hopes are over. ‘We made the mistakes in the early part of the season, so we were always chasing, and we had to have a 100 per cent record to have any chance. I thought the team felt the pressure of that in this game. We lacked composure.

‘It's our job now to play a part in where the league title ends up. Playing for Chelsea means you have to play well every week. Look, I've got a great group of players and I've got a disappointed dressing room. I'm sure everybody will push this week to get us into a place where we're competitive in the upcoming games.’

- Chelsea Women play Bristol City at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday 20 February and tickets are available here
 

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