Emma Hayes was left with mixed emotions after watching her Chelsea FC Women team share the points in a six-goal thriller away from home against Barclays FA Women’s Super League title rivals Manchester City yesterday.
It was a ding-dong battle at the Academy Stadium with the Blues twice falling behind, before taking the lead through Bethany England in the 74th minute only to be pegged back by Lauren Hemp two minutes later as the match ended 3-3.
Both sides spurned opportunities to win the game, while City will point to a saved penalty by Ann-Katrin Berger in the second-half as a good opportunity to win the game in a match which could have gone either way and proved a great advert for the Women’s Super League.
The draw means City remain top of the league by a point but the Blues are unbeaten and can leapfrog City if we win our game in hand. Arsenal, who did not play due to FA Cup commitments, are three points behind Chelsea.
The draw ends a sequence of nine successive wins for the Blues in all competitions and while Hayes’ team had chances to win the game, the Chelsea boss was content with leaving a stadium we have never won at with what could be a crucial point.
‘It’s tough for the players,’ she said. ‘I think we have to recognise they’re humans and you can ask of your players almost everything most of the time but they have emotions and I thought it was a game played with emotions from both teams.
‘Man City were desperate to win the game, they were at home and for us we were desperate to prove ourselves and as a result of that it was more of a basketball match than a chess match.
‘It was two teams who want to win the game, so you go forward a lot and when you go forward a lot it becomes transitional. But credit to the opponent, they set up well and made it difficult for us and we lacked patience. We were two very good teams that had very good moments and it’s not always going to be a 1-0. We’ve probably had more exciting draws here than we have anywhere else so there is credit to both teams who want to go for it.
‘You have got to remember I have lost the title on the last day in the last game in the last moments, two goals, so there is never complacency in me. But I really do think it’s a point gained, you have to appreciate how hard it is to come and get a result up here.
‘They are a wonderful team who have always been at the forefront of women’s football and it was amazing, it was end-to-end and if you aren’t the managers you’re having a wonderful time. It’s better than a boring 0-0 game, both teams going for it, it was full of drama, it had a penalty and I thought it was officiated very well.’
Next up for the Blues is the no small matter of the Continental Tyres Cup against Arsenal on Saturday. While Hayes was satisfied to leave Manchester with a share of the spoils, she knows her side can improve and will be working hard on the training ground this week to ensure we are ready for our London rivals.
‘We were terrible defensively, going forward we are always going to get goals,’ Hayes continued.
‘We have got to expect more from ourselves in those circumstances but let’s not forget defensively we have been tremendous this side of Christmas. We had an off day and it’s important for us to get fresh and ready for Saturday, that’s the crucial thing.
‘I have got to see where we are, how we have recovered and make decisions from there – I don’t know what my team is going to be on Saturday.
‘I’m happy to be unbeaten still, I’m happy to be in the hunt for the title and I’m even happier to be in the final next week and not sitting at home watching it. Could I ask to be in a better position? Of course, but my glass is half full and I’m quite happy with that.’