Chelsea boss Emma Hayes lifts lid on the Brighton ‘cup final’ she always dreads playing

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Emma Hayes' side were unable to grab a breakthrough at the People’s Pension Stadium after Erin Cuthbert, Fran Kirby and Beth England all wasted key chances.
Emma Hayes' side were unable to grab a breakthrough at the People’s Pension Stadium after Erin Cuthbert, Fran Kirby and Beth England all wasted key chances.

By Charlie Bennett

Emma Hayes says she’s sick and tired of Chelsea being given the Barclays FA Women’s Super League run-around by Brighton as her profligate players blew a golden opportunity to cut the gap on Arsenal at the top of the table.

The Blues were unable to grab a breakthrough at the People’s Pension Stadium after Erin Cuthbert, Fran Kirby and Beth England all wasted key chances.

Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh pulled off a string of vital saves as defending champions Chelsea, who were also held 0-0 by West Ham in midweek, drew two FAWSL blanks on the spin for the first time since October 2018.

Hope Powell’s Brighton delivered a defiant display in Crawley and Hayes hopes similar performances can snatch valuable points off Arsenal and Manchester City towards the back-end of the season.

The 45-year-old, whose team now lie three points adrift of the table-topping Gunners, said: “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!

“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.”

Chelsea enjoyed almost 70 per cent of possession and racked up 26 shots but were unable to beat in-form Walsh in the Brighton goal.

Kirby and Cuthbert were two of the visitors’ key culprits as Chelsea, who had scored in 59 consecutive FAWSL matches until last week, were unable to muster the cutting edge to haul themselves over the line.

Danielle Carter provided the only moment of promise for the hosts before Walsh’s stunning late save thwarted substitute England to frustrate the stuttering Blues.

Chelsea take on West Ham once again on Wednesday night and as they aim to get their season back on track, Hayes added: “I think it’s a weird year and things are going to happen.

“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.”

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

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