Emma Hayes celebrated her 200th game as Chelsea Women manager on Sunday when her side marked her milestone with a comprehensive 6-1 victory against Bristol City, and afterwards she shared her delight with the Blues’ performance.
Chelsea had the task of coming from behind for the fifth successive occasion this season after conceding an early goal inside the opening quarter, but the Blues replied emphatically with four different players getting their names on the scoresheet in front of a lively Kingsmeadow crowd to mark Hayes’ special day in style.
‘I will remember the 200th for it having a feeling that I have such an unbelievable team to work with,’ Hayes said post-match.
‘I am here as long as they will let me coach them, my 200th game shows they still want me to do it. How long for? God knows, but enough for me to compete for trophies and that’s all I want.
‘I asked the players to make it a memorable one and they did so I’m happy to be going home having scored quite a few goals.’
Top scorer Bethany England cancelled out Ebony Salmon’s opening goal when she leapt fearlessly to head home and more goals followed as Chelsea went into the break 4-1 up.
Hannah Blundell put us in front for the first time in the encounter on 40 minutes when her left-footed strike took a deflection and sent Bristol’s keeper Sophie Baggaley the wrong way.
Jess Carter opened her Chelsea account after finishing from close range before Ji So-Yun placed an effort into the far corner moments before the half-time whistle.
The Blues well and truly had our shooting boots on at this point with Ji and England adding to the scoring in the second half to finish with a brace apiece.
For the second week running much of the Chelsea camp had been fighting off illness, which forced Hayes into making some changes to her core. The Blues manager was pleased with her team’s effort, and highlighted the good work from Blundell and Carter in particular.
‘It was bad enough last week, but this week has been horrendous,’ Hayes said when asked about the illness that has struck the squad.
‘With so many players stepping up when you need them, I’m really happy for Jess Carter and Hannah Blundell in particular, they stayed patient to get their opportunity.
‘I am just disappointed I couldn’t get Deanna Cooper into the game because it was a game where changes had to be made in the attack but someone like Deanna is deserving to be on the pitch.’
It’s a busy week for the Blues who are in action against Aston Villa on Wednesday evening in the Continental Tyres League Cup quarter-final, before travelling to north London for a top-of-the-table clash versus Arsenal on Sunday, and although Hayes knows there is room for improvement, the Chelsea boss believes her side can go up another level.
‘To be not out of it [the title race] is only our starting point. It’s not about looking forward or looking up at the table, I’ve still have got a problem conceding the first goal in a game and that’s a big problem to have. It’s an obvious problem that we’re not eliminating and that’s a huge concern for me.
‘We have got so much more space to grow and improve and I can really see an evolution of the team with the new players coming in and we can add other dimensions to our game and you could see it in the second half of this game.
‘With a bit more time as long as we keep the core group together then I think the team will kick on.’
Chelsea’s quarter-final of the Continental Tyres Cup kicks off at Kingsmeadow at 7pm on Wednesday and tickets are still available to purchase online.