A late winner from Erin Cuthbert earnt Chelsea a vital three points against Birmingham as they continued their quest for a league and cup double.
Birmingham had almost secured a well-earned point after Hayley Ladd’s second-half volley cancelled out Fran Kirby’s first-half wonder-strike.
But as the game entered added time, Cuthbert pounced to ensure Chelsea jumped to top spot after their SSE Women’s FA Cup heroics at the weekend.
Chelsea almost took the lead on 10 minutes when Jonna Andersson shot straight at Ann-Katrin Berger.
The home side broke the deadlock on 20 minutes later in stunning fashion. Kirby collected the ball from Andersson on the edge of the area, took a touch inside and rifled past Berger into the goal’s far corner.
Moments later Birmingham nearly levelled, Emma Follis shooting straight at Hedvig Lindahl after racing on to a long ball.
The lively Ramona Bachmann soon almost doubled the home side’s lead but Berger saved well low to her left.
It was a slow start to the second half, with both teams cancelling each other out, with Birmingham’s Marisa Ewers and Chelsea’s Bachmann both going close at either end.
Just after the hour mark, Birmingham equalised.
Jess Carter skipped past a Chelsea defender before crossing to Ladd, who took a touch before volleying past Lindahl.
The away side started to dominate the game, with both Charlie Wellings and Rachel Williams going close, but they could not find that clinical edge in the final third.
In added time, substitute Cuthbert scored the winning goal after great build-up play from Andersson and Kirby down the right flank, slotting home to earn a crucial three points.
WHAT THEY SAID
Match-winner Erin Cuthbert was thrilled after the game: “I’m absolutely ecstatic – we’re all ecstatic!
“We really needed that after the cup win, it was a really tough game and Birmingham are a really tough team.
“When you are going for the title you can’t win pretty all the time, you have to get results like that and we did tonight.
“Second half was tough, we tired a little bit and games against teams like Birmingham will always be tough for us but it shows our mental attitude, we don’t give up when it gets tough, we keep going and I think we did really well.”
Birmingham captain Kerys Harrop said: “The first 20 minutes we were a bit poor and gave Chelsea too much time on the ball but after that we had a lot of possession and I think we deserved something.
“In the second half, Marc (Skinner) told us not to show them as much respect and I think we did that, we pressed them and had a lot of possession.
“We are very disappointed, we definitely deserved something out of the game but we can hold our heads high.”
Everton picked up a valuable 3-1 win over bottom side Yeovil Town at the Marine Travel Arena, lifting the Blues up to seventh in the FA WSL 1 table.
A second half double from Mollie Green sealed all three points after Danielle Turner’s opener, with Libby Piggott scoring Yeovil’s solitary goal.
The Toffees leapfrog Bristol City and Sunderland to move up from ninth, while Yeovil stay rooted to the bottom of FA WSL 1.
The home side dominated the first half, with Green skewing an effort just off target on 11 minutes, and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk firing a strike over the bar on 22 minutes.
Everton’s pressure eventually paid off as Turner scored a spectacular opener. A direct ball in behind the Yeovil defence found her in space, and she curled home a dipping strike from 20 yards.
The advantage was almost doubled on the stroke of half time after Sweetman-Kirk was brought down for a penalty, but Megan Walsh pulled off a fine save to deny Jodie Brett from the spot.
Yeovil found an equaliser three minutes after the restart, as a deep cross to the back post was not dealt with and Piggott swept home from close range.
Andy Spence’s side were not quelled by the equaliser and Green’s goal on 62 minutes from a Sweetman-Kirk cut back came after a sustained period of Everton pressure.
Green increased Everton’s lead eleven minutes later, with the England U19 international moved onto penalty duties, as she blasted home past Walsh after substitute Chloe Kelly was brought down.
WHAT THEY SAID
Everton match-winner Mollie Green said: “Personally I felt at fault for the first goal, and I felt I had to do something to rectify it, and what better way to do that than by scoring for the team?
“We sat down in midweek and had a few honest words with each other about the late equaliser against Bristol City last weekend, and we knew today that we needed to play with enjoyment and a smile on our face.”
“This year there has been such a negative vibe around us, I think sometimes you can take that on a little too much as a team and today we tried to do something against a good Everton side, and play with no fear.
Yeovil’s Annie Heatherson: “We played with hunger, we scored our first goal of the season, and that was amazing and gave us a big morale boost.
“We hustled and worked hard, and it was really rewarding, particularly as half of us were in work this morning and then we had to get a bus a 12 o’clock and a six hour journey, so to come out and play like that, I think we have to give ourselves a lot more credit.”
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