Against Sunderland in the Women’s League Cup last Wednesday, Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes gave minutes to as many second-choice players as possible and got away from the encounter against the Women’s Championship outfit with a 5-0 win. Against opposition of (presumably) the same level, Crystal Palace, in the Women’s FA Cup, the first-choice players struggled to meet the standards of their teammates in the first half.
The Blues almost scored early via Fran Kirby, with a world-class shot that hit the post. She was also the only player in the starting eleven that took part in the Sunderland match, changing places with Lauren James right after the starting lineups were announced.
Otherwise the hosts failed to meet expectations. Palace would park the bus from the first minute and look for breaks which defence easily handled. But every player upfront not named Mayra Ramírez looked like they were playing at half capacity.
That’s not to take credit away from the good goalkeeping by Palace’s Demi Lambourne. However it did seem like most of our shots ended up in her arms most because of our own misgivings.
For most of the second half we continued to struggle. Emma’s changes at the 62-minute mark, bringing in Aggie Beever-Jones and Sjoeke Nüsken to replace Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Fran Kirby, didn’t make the impact we needed.
Ramírez was Chelsea’s beacon of light throughout. She nearly got her first ever goal at least two times, with a good shot from her parried by Lambourne, and a second attempt hitting the crossbar.
Soon her efforts would be rewarded with one of the best goals of the season thus far.
Chelsea kept pushing their lines to find a second goal and seal the deal once and for all. But every other attacker not named Mayra Ramírez weren’t in their sharpest days.
Still a win is a win. Through to the quarterfinal, we go!
- Last minute change from Emma Hayes has Fran Kirby on the pitch, and Lauren James off due to injury during warm-ups.
- Not sure what “hit” Chelsea this first half. An atypically half-hearted effort from the group, for whatever reason(s) bar Mayra Ramírez and Fran Kirby.
- We’ve gotten better after half-time, but still not good enough.
- Again Ramírez doing the work to integrate herself into the team and become a key part of our plans much quicker than anticipated.
- Next up: Manchester City at home in the Women’s Super League