Chelsea have the WSL title in the palm of their hands


Chelsea have the WSL title in the palm of their hands after victory in the Midlands.

It was a perfect evening for football at St Andrews Stadium, and both sides were aware of the importance of the game as Darren Carter and Emma Hayes both selected full strength sides in search of a crucial victory. Blues needed to win to boost their survival hopes and Chelsea needed the victory to keep their hopes of a third successive WSL title alive.

Despite Blues being lively for the first couple of minutes, it was Chelsea who started the better. Hayes’ side had numerous chances through Harder, Kerr (who crashed a thunderous effort off the bar), Reiten and Bright. But, they couldn’t get the all important goal they desperately needed.

Just after the half hour mark, Birmingham had a debatable shout for a penalty after a Chelsea player appeared to handle the ball in the area, and despite claims from all the City players and fans, the referee waved the claims away and nothing further happened.

Blues star player Veatriki Sarri started to have more of an influence in the game as we approached the latter stages of the first half. The game did begin to become scrappy as Lisa Robertson received a yellow card for a late challenge on a Chelsea player.

But at Half-Time the scoreline remained 0-0. Emma Hayes would have been disappointed with her Chelsea sides first half performance as they failed to register a single shot on target. Blues on the other hand were hanging in there, and did start growing into the game, captain Louise Quinn and her fellow defenders were coping well.

Ahead of the second half, rain started pouring, resulting in the ball being held up on the pitch. Out of the two teams, Chelsea were quicker to adapt to the conditions. A series of patient build up play saw them land the first chance of the second half, the ball fell to (second half) substitute Erin Cuthbert on the volley but her effort went over Ramsey’s bar.

Chelsea continued to dominate the ball, but Blues still looked dangerous going forward especially from their set pieces, which Sarri kept on winning for her side. But, it all changed in the 70th minute as Chelsea were awarded arguably the most important penalty of the season.

The ball was whipped in from the left by substitute Jonna Andersson, the Chelsea player at the back post tried to head the ball back across the box but it struck Blues player Robertson on the arm, and the referee instantly pointed to the spot.

Danish international Pernille Harder stepped up and easily fired it past Ramsey to put her side 0-1 up, to bag her sixth goal of the season, and more importantly score the goal to move Chelsea within one win of the WSL title.

In the last ten minutes of the game, Chelsea became sloppy, players began giving the ball away cheaply and with Blues pushing for the all important leveller it nearly came. In the 93rd minute, a brilliant ball whipped in from a corner found the feet of substitute Emily Whelan who forced an outstanding save from returning Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger. So close yet so far for Carter’s side.

Overall, despite not getting the victory Birmingham showed some real grit and determination throughout the fixture and they held arguably the best team in the WSL to only a 1-0 scoreline. Captain L.Quinn and Sarri played excellently. Meanwhile for Chelsea, it was a massive win despite a below average performance, but Hayes’ side showed the sign of true champions to dig deep and find a way to get a crucial three points.

Birmingham City and Chelsea Women in their post match huddles after Emma Hayes' side won 1-0

Photo taken by Ashlea Follows for Prost International

Where does this leave the sides now…

Birmingham City have two games left to save their season, one against Manchester City and one against local rivals Aston Villa. Blues must win both games and hope East Midlands rivals Leicester City don’t win on the final day to stay in the WSL next season.

Chelsea have just one game left in the season and if they win it the title is theirs. They currently have a four point gap over London rivals Arsenal, who still have two to play. So it makes for a very interesting final day on the 8th May.

Is the title going to the blue side of London or the red side?


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