With Arsenal finding no obstacles in beating Aston Villa, who were at the end of a 7-0 thrashing by the Gunners, Women’s Super League’s fate remained in Chelsea’s hands. A win at relegation-threatened Birmingham City’s stadium was a must, and the Blues would come quite close to the opening goal twice in under six minutes.
As we failed to profit from the couple of great chances we had in the beginning of the match, the hosts at St. Andrew’s Stadium started to come out of their shell. Chelsea’s (still) erratic midfield play greatly helped Birmingham City, forcing Ann-Katrin Berger to work more than she should have expected against the dead-last team in the WSL table.
Guro Reiten was again the player giving us the most hope in getting the opener, as she got close to scoring herself from a Pernille Harder pass and almost assisted a Jessie Fleming heading goal. But we would head into the tunnels goalless at the half.
Birmingham City’s success in shattering our winning anticipations also shattered any hopes of giving Erin Cuthbert a bit of a rest. She was brought on for Beth England at half-time and almost immediately injected some much needed impetus for a lackadaisical Chelsea side.
While Cuthbert’s bolt of energy at Chelsea’s core was much appreciated, Chelsea were still finding it quite difficult to create good enough chances to score against Birmingham. That until a clear handball in their penalty box at an attempt to stop one of our attacks gave Pernille Harder the chance to score from the spot. She rightfully did so, with the goalkeeper sent at the opposite direction of the shot to make it 1-0 to the Blues.
Emma Hayes chose to shore up defence following the slim lead, introducing Drew Spence and Maren Mjelde in place of Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr. This of course led to more pressure from Birmingham, with Berger once again called into action and even earning a yellow card for time-wasting after a fingertip defence to secure our 1-0 win today.
- Ann-Katrin Berger is back between the posts after serving a one-match suspension from the red card in our 3-1 win over Tottenham last weekend. Guro Reiten returns to left wing-back, with Niamh Charles on the opposite side and Jessie Fleming in central midfield next to Sophie Ingle. The attacking trio of Sam Kerr, Beth England and Pernille Harder gets another start.
- Subs are Erin Cuthbert for Beth England, Lauren James for Jess Carter, Jonna Andersson for Sophie Ingle, Drew Spence for Pernille Harder, and Maren Mjelde for Sam Kerr.
- This first half looked like the type of nightmarish game we have against bottom table teams every so often.
- ...and Pernille Harder, despite having perhaps one of the worst ever games with a Chelsea shirt, does it for us. Thank the heavens!
- Next up: Manchester United at Kingsmeadow. The (potential) title decider!