- Albion lose out to Chelsea in their first match of the 2018/19 season.
- Drew Spence, Fran Kirby and Bethany England score for the hosts.
- Aileen Whelan gets on the scoresheet for the Seagulls.
- Attention switchers to next week’s match against Tottenham Hotspur.
A battling Brighton & Hove Albion put in a good performance, but ultimately lost out to Chelsea in the first group match of the FA Continental Tyres Cup.
Albion came into the match knowing it would be a tough test against the current FA Women’s Super League and SSE Women’s FA Cup holders but the team held their own during the first half.
After a quiet opening to the match, with both sides struggling to find a route to goal, it was the hosts who had the first clear chance of the game.
England international Fran Kirby found space on the left hand side of the penalty area and played a clever through ball to Jonna Andersson who was able to pick out Maria Thorisdottir with her cross, but her header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The hosts started to dominate the possession in the midfield areas and were able to create more chances to test Sophie Harris, who was making her debut in goal.
Chelsea skipper Karen Carney fired over with a shot from the edge of the area whilst the impressive Kirby had a header saved by Harris.
Another Albion debutant, central defender Victoria Williams, stood out in the back-line as she managed to intervene with a couple of last-ditch blocks from shots by Chelsea’s front line.
After the half-hour mark Albion were able to find their rhythm and create chances of their own.
The industrious Welsh international Kayleigh Green was a tireless runner up front and managed to put Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl under pressure following an under hit back pass. Green was also on hand to turn an Amanda Nilden cross just wide from ten yards out.
Chelsea threatened again through Spence and it looked as if Albion had held out for 0-0 at half-time, but it was the Chelsea striker who benefitted from some confusion in the Albion defence to hit home a left footed shot from the edge of the area just before the whistle was due to be blown.
Albion started the second-half brightly with Aileen Whelan’s shot dipping just over the crossbar.
The quality of the hosts began to show as the match wore on, with Fran Kirby and Drew Spence at the heart of the action.
It was Kirby who scored Chelsea’s second goal, just beating Albion defender Fliss Gibbons to the ball after Sophie Harris did well to save from a close-range shot.
Albion’s heads didn’t drop and the introductions of substitutes Sophie Perry and Jodie Brett proved vital. After only seconds on the pitch, a well-worked short corner was eventually crossed in by Perry onto the head of Whelan, who sent a well-directed header past Lindahl in the Chelsea goal.
With Albion looking for an equaliser, it was Chelsea who scored the game’s final goal. Substitute Bethany England, who had several good chances to score after she came on, headed in a Jonna Andersson cross.
The focus for Hope Powell and her team now switches to next week and the trip to Tottenham Hotspur as they look for their first three points of the group stage.
ALBION: Harris: Rafferty, Roe (Perry 76), Williams, Gibbons; Simpkins (Brett 76), Buet, A. Whelan, Natkiel (Umotong), Nilden; Green
SUBS NOT USED: Gillett, F. Whelan, Legg