Emma Hayes pointed out the impact from the Chelsea bench as the key factor in Sunday’s 2-0 victory against Leicester City.
Substitute Pernille Harder broke the deadlock at Kingsmeadow with eight minutes remaining before Kirby doubled the Blues lead in added time.
Chelsea’s win against Leicester City was Hayes’s 100th Barclays FA Women’s Super League victory and the Blues boss was delighted to come away with a clean sheet and the three points.
She said: ‘I know everyone wants champagne football all of the time. We’ve had a lot of games in quick accumulation, quick turnarounds. I thought it was a tired performance from us. The tempo was really slow in the first half. I didn’t think we did enough to move them, to pull them apart, to create spaces to be able to create opportunities.
‘We laboured on the ball, however, it was great for Zecira [Musovic] and Aniek [Nouwen] to come in and get a clean sheet. Jessie Fleming was tremendous with her energy that she gave the team. I could hear how much she wanted to drive the team forward.
‘Again, the impact from the bench was the difference when it could very well have been a 0-0 game.’
Fleming put in a stellar performance for the Blues with her display rewarded with the Player of the Match award and Hayes was full of praise for the 23-year-old.
She added: ‘For a young player, she was worthy of her player of the match performance. She’s maturing, she’s growing, she’s taking responsibility and played a big part in the goal.
‘What people don’t realise, she finished university last year and she was a first-year professional. If you compare that to Niamh Charles, similar ages, had three or four years under her belt as a pro.
‘It takes time and all the things that come with playing in a squad of this quality. She is invested in what she does day in day out, she is a fabulous trainer.
‘Everyday her application, her attitude, her willingness, her consistency is putting her in the position that she will continue to make impacts like she had today.
‘I’m really pleased for her and I know the team are because they know what a fabulous character she is.’