Sunday 8 May 2011
The Blues 100% record in the WSL came to a halt this afternoon, after Chelsea held them to a 1-1 draw in South London.
The game was a nervy affair - and with Claire Rafferty putting the hosts ahead in the 74th minute – a defeat looked on the cards for Birmingham.
However, Kerys Harrop scored her third goal of the season with eight minutes left on the clock, to rescue a point for David Parker’s side.
It’s nothing less than the visitors deserved after they dominated proceedings in the first half.
The Blues enjoyed long spells of possession in the opening 45 minutes but they struggled to break through Chelsea’s midfield. The Londoners adopted a physical approach in the middle of the park and they picked up a yellow card for their troubles, after Leanne Champ was adjudged to have made a late tackle.
The only real chance of the half fell to Birmingham, when the deadly duo of Karen Carney and Rachel Williams combined to almost break the deadlock. Carney latched onto Williams’ through ball and rounded Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford, but Gemma Bonner cleared the former Arsenal star’s effort off the line.
With the game a more even contest in the second half, it was a case of which manager blinked first in terms of substitutions, and it was Parker who made the first change.
Isobel Christiansen replaced Jade Moore on the right wing but just a minute after the change, Rafferty handed Chelsea the lead as they looked set to move within four points of the Blues.
However, Christiansen repaid the faith Parker showed in her by setting up the Blues’ equaliser. The former Everton winger played in Harrop, and the defender fired home on the turn from twelve yards out.
Birmingham very nearly snatched all three points at Tooting and Mitcham FC, but Carney saw her powerful strike tipped away by Telford.
Nevertheless, the Blues will be delighted with a point against one of their title rivals to remain unbeaten.
Chelsea: Carly Telford, Sophie Perry, Kylie Davis, Gemma Bonner; Danielle Buet, Drew Spence (Rebecca Jane 90), Leanne Champ, Ashlee Hincks, Hayley Moorwood, Helen Lander, Claire Rafferty.
Unused subs: Sarah Quantrill, Lara Fay, Danielle Bird, Emma Plewa.
Blues: Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston, Sally-Anne Stanton, Laura Bassett, Kerys Harrop, Dunia Susi, Jo Potter, Jade Moore (Isobel Christiansen 73), Emily Westwood, Rachel Williams, Karen Carney.
Unused subs: Jess Wright, Laura Watts, Eartha Pond, Marie Ballard
Referee: A Mead
Goals: Rafferty (74), Harrop (82)
Bookings: Champ (36)