Emma Hayes was quick to praise her squad as Chelsea Women came from behind to beat Reading 3-1 at Kingsmeadow on Sunday – despite new signing Sam Kerr stealing most of the headlines.
Much of the focus for the game was on the debut of Kerr with the Australian only landing in London nine days earlier and being thrust straight in to the starting XI by Hayes.
Kerr lined up alongside Bethany England in attack and was immediately in the action when she was fouled on the edge of the box by Grace Moloney, which led to a red card for the Reading goalkeeper.
The 26-year-old then produced a deft back-heel to set up England for the Chelsea equaliser before goals from Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert gave Chelsea a comfortable victory.
Read: Chelsea 3-1 Reading match report
While Hayes was delighted with Kerr’s impact, she reserved special praise for some of those not grabbing the attention, in particular Drew Spence and Reiten, who expertly lobbed the ball into the net for the Blues’ second goal.
‘I am really pleased with the effort the whole group has put in in the last 10 days since we came back,’ said the Chelsea boss.
‘It’s been hard, you ask them, really tough. I’ve been really on them for 10 days, they’ve been complaining about how hard they’ve had to work but you need to have those pushes when you can get them because when you’ve got games accumulated you can’t do it.
‘Guro was brilliant. Her and Drew were the top two players on the pitch. You have to remember Guro played 12 months without a break, December was like an off-season for her and she really needed the Christmas break.
‘She’s come back fresh and she was aggressive in her performance. There are things that I asked that I saw from her so I’m really happy with her.’
As expected the Chelsea manager was quizzed on her new arrival’s display by the assembled media and she was enthused by not only Kerr’s impact on the pitch but also the way she has fitted in to the squad and embraced her new surroundings.
Hayes said: ‘I’m happy she made her debut, she’s such a great team-player and for her to fit into our group the way she has done is a real testament to her.
‘I don’t think I could ask for anymore - it was her first time and there is a lot of expectation on her so I asked her to push herself into the team and do the job for the team and that’s what she did. She’s humble, hardworking, honest, thoughtful, an unbelievable team-player and she cares about what the team think of her.
‘She will work and do her job for the team at any point. You can have top players, but to have a top player who is a top person – happy days.’
Yesterday Chelsea were drawn away to Championship side Charlton Athletic Women in the Women’s FA Cup fourth round. Click here to view the full fourth round draw.
Chelsea are in Women’s Super League action on Sunday at Kingsmeadow when we take on Bristol City. The match kicks off at 2pm and tickets are still available to buy at £1 for juniors (under-20) and seniors (over-65) and £9 for adults.