Albion end losing run with a great point as they hold WSL champs

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Emma Koivisto in a battle with Pernille Harder
Emma Koivisto in a battle with Pernille Harder

Albion picked up their first Barclays FA Women’s Super League point since November by holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw.

Despite enjoying close to 70 per cent of possession and attempting over 20 shots, the visitors couldn’t find a way past Megan Walsh in the home goal.

After Guro Reiten toe-poked wide from six yards – Pernille Harder finding her with a clever cut back – Fran Kirby headed just wide from a Jonna Andersson cross, before a goal-bound Reiten effort was blocked by Victoria Williams.

Danielle Carter provided the only moment of inspiration at the other end for Hope Powell’s side, a snap shot forcing Ann-Katrin Berger to tip the ball over the bar.

Kirby missed a glorious chance seven minutes from the interval when she was released by Fleming just inside the Brighton half, racing towards goal having beaten Danique Kerkdijk for pace, only to be denied by a sprawling Walsh.

The defending champions continued to pour forward, Kirby twice thwarted in the opening five minutes of the second period before Scottish international Erin Cuthbert inexplicably put wide from six yards having been presented with the best chance of the game.

Niamh Charles and Beth England were both introduced from the Chelsea bench as they continued to rain shots in, Cuthbert smashing against the bar after Williams had again put her body on the line to block Drew Spence’s drive.

England was kept out by a wonderful save from Walsh three minutes from time as she claimed a superb clean sheet – in the process giving her side the point their sheer resilience epitomised.

Albion boss Hope Powell said: “It’s been a tough run of games but it was great today that we showed more fight and more determination against a very good Chelsea side.

“We pressed reset after the Leicester game and needed to go again and they did that magnificently well and there were loads of positives that hopefully we can take into Thursday’s game.

“There are some things we really need to work on, retaining the ball better as there were too many turnovers.

“I think we’re a bit like their (Chelsea’s) nemesis. I’m not sure [Emma Hayes] likes playing against us but we matched them today and most importantly kept the ball out the net so I have to be really pleased.

“I did say at half-time remember what happened when we were 0-0 with Man City, so you have got to be ready for it and to their credit, they stood up. Everybody was on the same page.”

Chelsea boss Hayes said: “How can I be frustrated when we played well? And I thought we did play well. I’m disappointed, from the one on one we had in the first half with Fran and to Beth’s header, we should win this game comfortably.

“I enjoyed the performance. Had one gone in I think we’d have been talking about how well we played today, but instead we’re talking about things like an opportunity missed and I think to focus on that would only take energy away. The only missing thing today was that we didn’t put the ball in the net.

“I think it’s a weird year and things are going to happen. I always feel with Brighton like this is their cup final. I wish they’d play against Man City and Arsenal like they compete against us!

“We all know it’s going to be a very strange season and for that reason I don’t know if it’s a point gained, or two lost.”

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Albion (4-2-3-1): Megan Walsh; Emma Kullberg, Victoria Williams (c), Danique Kerkdijk, Maya Le Tissier; Kayleigh Green, Megan Connolly, Aileen Whelan, Emma Koivisto; Inessa Kaagman; Danielle Carter. Substitutes: Maisie Symonds for Kerkdijk 63, Julia Zigiotti for Kaagman 78, Ellie Brazil for Carter 90+1. Substitutes not used: Katie Startup (gk), Fliss Gibbons, Danielle Bowman, Libby Bance, Emily Simpkins, Katie Robinson

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