Match Reports

Albion beat leaders to claim stunning success

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Whelan and Connolly on target as Chelsea are beaten for the first time in two years.

By Bruce Talbot • 07 February 2021

By Kyle Hemsley
Albion players celebrate after taking the lead against Chelsea.
  • Chelsea 1, Albion 2

Four days after Albion's men's team enjoyed the best win in their history, Hope Powell's side emulated their Anfield achievement with a stunning success of their own.

Goals from Aileen Whelan and Megan Connolly, direct from a corner, sentenced WSL leaders to their first defeat in two years.

The champions had gone 33 games without defeat in the league and it looked like being 34 when Sam Kerr gave them an early lead.

But Whelan headed home from Connolly's corner soon to level. In the second half Albion had to defend for their lives at times but Connolly scored direct from a corner with 11 minutes to go and Albion dug deep to claim their third win of the season.

Emma Koivisto came in for her debut as one of five changes to the side beaten by Bristol City last week. Megan Walsh returned in goal and there were returns for Danique Kerkdijk, Geum-min Lee and Ellie Simpkins.

Albion fell behind after five minutes when Sam Kerr got above Lee to head Erin Cuthbert's right-wing corner past Megan Walsh.

By Kyle Hemsley
Aileen Whelan heads in to get Albion back on level terms.

But they responded with an equaliser three minutes later. Connolly delivered a corner from the left and Whelan found space to guide a close-range header into the top corner – not a bad way to celebrate her 50th WSL appearance for the club.

Powell had organised her team in a 4-5-1 formation with Koivisto looking composed at left-back even though she is right-footed. She linked up well with Inessa Kaagman as Albion enjoyed a good spell with the ball.

Chelsea struggled to create clear-cut chances but still had two efforts before the break when they might have scored. Beth England's snap-shot hit the bar after taking a deflection and Kaagman cleared a header by Magdalena Eriksson off the line in the 37th minute.

By Kyle Hemsley
Emma Koivisto impressed on her Albion debut.

Chelsea were able to bring on three internationals when they made a triple change just before the hour. The leaders had upped the tempo and were more aggressive, but Albion remained disciplined, compact and hard to break down.

So much so that Walsh wasn't called upon until the 76th minute when Jonna Andersson’s left-wing cross was touched on by Guro Reiten and the ball came back off the inside of the post with the Albion keeper pouncing on the loose ball. It was the bit of luck they deserved and two minutes later they made the most of it by going in front.

By Kyle Hemsley
Albion celebrate their winning goal against the Blues.

The visitors had created little from open play but they were a threat at set pieces. Lee's shot was deflected for a corner and when Connolly swung it over from the left Chelsea keeper Carly Telford's attempt to punch clear ended with the ball flying into the top corner.

There was still some defending to do but as they had been throughout, Albion were organised and resolute. And after four minutes of stoppage time Powell and her players could celebrate a brilliant result.

Albion: Walsh, Le Tissier, Williams ©, Kerkdijk, Koivisto, Whelan, Connolly, Simpkins (Bance 62), Kaagman, Brazil, Geum-Min Lee (Jarrett 77).

Subs: Fiskerstrand, Bowman, Roe, Jarrett, Heroum, Symonds.