Emma Hayes was grateful for the contribution of her players off the bench in the comeback win over West Ham in the Women’s FA Cup and identified Erin Cuthbert as an important leader for the team in the absence of more experienced Blues.

Chelsea Women had to work hard to continue our defence of the Women’s FA Cup and maintain our undefeated record in that competition, which stretches back to 2020, by fighting back from a goal down to beat West Ham United 3-1 in extra time.

We were trailing from the 17th minute until the 70th, when substitute Mia Fishel smashed a shot into the top corner on the turn. Then, in the first half of extra time, Erin Cuthbert headed us into the lead shortly before two more subs, Melanie Leupolz and Aggie Beever-Jones, combined to seal the victory.

Given it was our first fixture since the Champions League win at Hacken before Christmas, manager Emma Hayes wasn’t surprised it took us time to find out cutting edge.

‘We haven’t played since 20 December, I think looking rusty is normal,’ she said. ‘We haven’t had a game and they looked like it. But once again the finishers came and made a massive impact.

‘I just think not playing is the biggest factor. You’re rusty, you’ve got to build the combinations, the partnerships.’

Mia Fishel came off the bench to get our equaliser, taking her chance in the absence of Sam Kerr…

'Mia came in and took her wonderful goal. That will do wonders for Mia, much as it will for Erin popping up in an area. So we have to focus on the players who are fit and available.

'I’ve always said Sam is an important piece but she’s not available and we have to put our conversation and effort into those that are.

'For sure she has to and I have confidence in Mia. She needs time, she needs minutes. Up until today she’d only played about 321 minutes, so we need to give her a bit of time.'

Emma was also pleased to see new leaders emerging, with captain Millie Bright and Kerr out injured…

'I thought we lacked a little bit that leadership in the first half, but I thought Melanie Leupolz and Nathalie Bjorn both brought that to the game when they came in.

'Erin was brilliant, she was the leader. I thought she was the player of the match. It was an absolutely brilliant performance.

'I thought she dragged the team. Even when we went 1-0 down I thought it was her who got hold of the team and I told her that at the end. I thought she was brilliant today.'