September 6, 2020 by Stephen L Wright
“There’ll be joys and sorrows, too.”
Well, it was most definitely the latter today. With so much promised by the new Boss, in the knowledge that it would be a tough road to travel, fans expected to see her ‘rebuilt’ Blues charge into her ‘new era’. But it wasn’t to be.
The first third of the game saw Blues with the majority of the possession and driving into Brighton’s half and the ‘Vital Third’. Claudia Walker had a scoring chance but was denied by good defending. New signing Jamie-Lee Napier linked well with Sara Mayling. At the back, and against the play, the defence couldn’t stop Geum-min Lee from breaking through. Her decision to shoot, rather than cross, perhaps prevented the first goal, as the ball went into the side netting.
That drive really got Brighton moving and Inissa Kaagman was the next to have a dig, only to be denied by the bar. Megan Connolly was poised to score from the rebound, but Harriet Scott headed clear. Then, late in the second third, Brighton skipper Dani Bowman also saw her free kick come off the bar. And that was really the story for the rest of the half. Blues had spent far too many of the forty-seven minutes in their own half.
Looking for better after the break, it didn’t appear. Blues started as they’d finished the first and Brighton piled forward. Consequently, two goals came within as many minutes as Connolly smashed one past Hannah Hampton and then Kaagman tipped in an easy header from Bowman’s cross. It was then a question of how many could Blues stop going in. But that’s how it ended.
Understandably, fans aren’t too happy: “Midfielders couldn’t keep the ball and we struggled to win it back.” “Walker did well on her own but had very little support.” “They looked like a team who had never played together.” “I can understand from the new ones who started but some of the others, have played together for a long time.” “Conceding the 2nd immediately after the 1st showed a lack of concentration when it mattered.” “We were on the back foot from the start. Same as last season.“
I agree with all of those. It was not what we had been expecting from a team motivated by a Head Coach with the attitude and philosophy that had taken her previous team to the brink of promotion.
In that interview with The Atlantic magazine, which I referenced yesterday, Carla Ward said this: “Everybody probably thinks they have an easy three points against us this year so that’s the motivation – going out there and turning heads a little bit.” But then she also said this “I will allow mistakes and will allow [the players] to go and play with freedom. The moment they stop giving me 100 per cent, then we have a problem.” I would love to be a fly on the wall at tomorrow’s Head Coach post-match talk.
Blues are at home to Man Utd next Sunday. After their draw today against Chelsea, in which they showed themselves to be a team to be reckoned with, and on analysing Blues’ performance, the visitors will be extremely hopeful of ‘an easy three points’.