• By Paul Lagan

Kirby scores as Blues win first WSL 1 game of the season, downing dour Brighton 2-0 at Kingsmeadow


Frank Kirby notched up her 52nd goal for the Blues as the WSL 1 champions got their campaign back on track with a deserved 2-0 over relegation-haunted Brighton & Hove Albion at Kingsmeadow Stadium this afternoon.

The Blues had three 0-0 draws to their name before facing the South Coast outfit and this victory should provide the cataylist to put pressure on league leaders Arsenal and a resurgent Manchester City.

The Blues other goal was scored by Scotland striker Erin Cuthbert.

The league shuts down for the international break before a crunch league game on October 14 against north Londoners Arsenal.

Fran Kirby had the first chance of the afternoon, picking up on a fine defence-splitting ball by So-Yun Ji, but the England striker could only send he left-footed goal-bound effort straight into Marie Hourihan’s body.

Chelsea should have taken the lead on 13 minutes when a Kirby byline cross fell to Ramona Backmann. Her turn and shot from six yards out beat Hourihan but Fliss Gibbons was on the line to hack the ball clear.

Brighton’s Aileen Whelan had a long run and shot, well held by Carly Telford - the visitors’ first effort on 15 minutes.

Chelsea’s inability to get past Brighton, deep defence led to skipper MIllie Bright trying a speculative long-range left-footer, that was well wide of Hourihan’s goal. A sign of frustration creeping into the home side’s p,ay.

A brilliant passage of play involving Kirby, Erin Cuthbert resulted in the Scotland striker rifling her shot on goal, but Hourihan, was again equal to that task and blocked the fierce effort.

A fine individual piece of skin by Cuthbert again saw the Brighton goalkeeper in unforgiving form, as she paried the effort away for a corner on 30 minutes.

But the Blues would not be denied and two minutes later deep cross by Magda Eriksson was met perfectly by in-running Kirby, who glanced the low volley wide of the Hourihan to open the league season’s goal tally for the Blues.

On 37 minutes, goal number two came from the left boot of Cuthbert as she got to the end of a fine run a byline cross from Bachmann and managed to guide the ball home from close range, sending Hourihan the wrong way.

There were no changes from either side at half-time

The first effort of the second half fell to Brighton and speed merchant Ini Umotong showed a clan pair of heels to Maren Mjelde and her show saw Telford tips the ball away for a corner.

Sloppy play by Chel;sea allowed the same player to attack the three-woman Chelsea defence. But her shot, this time was weak and wayward.

A double chance for Kirby and Cuthbert almost yielded a third goal on 55 minutes, Kirby’s close range effort was well block by Hourihan and Cuthbert’s follow-up volley inched over the Brighton crossbar.

Thorisdottir entered referee Abigail Marriott’s book on 65 minutes for a needless foul in midfield.

Emma Hayes made her fist change of the game, on with 15 minutes left on the clock bringing on Hannah Blundell. Off came ineffectual Jess Carter.

Telford was called into action a min ute later, tipping away another Umotong effort.

Blundell was quickly followed by Bethany England for Bachmann. And Drew Spence came on with a minute left for Cuthbert.

Teams: Telford, Thorisdottir, Bright, Carter, Ji, Kirby, Eriksson, Mjelde, Andersson, Cuthbert, Bachmann

Subs: Lindahl, Blundell, Ingle, Riley, England, Spence, Bailey

Brighton: Hourihan, Gibbons, Burt, Whelan, Rafferty, Whelan, Barton, Umotong, Brazil, Green, Williams

Subs: Gillette, Nilden, Peplow, Legg, Perry, Brett

Referee: Abigail Marriott

Fran Kirby had the first chance of the afternoon, picking up on a fine defence-splitting ball by So-Yun Ji, but the England striker could only send he left-footed goal-bound effort straight into Marie Hourihan’s body.

Chelsea should have taken the lead on 13 minutes when a Kirby byline cross fell to Ramona Backmann. Her turn and shot from six yards out beat Hourihan but Fliss Gibbons was on the line to hack the ball clear.

Brighton’s Aileen Whelan had a long run and shot, well held by Carly Telford - the visitors’ first effort on 15 minutes.

Chelsea’s inability to get past Brighton, deep defence led to skipper MIllie Bright trying a speculative long-range left-footer, that was well wide of Hourihan’s goal. A sign of frustration creeping into the home side’s p,ay.

A brilliant passage of play involving Kirby, Erin Cuthbert resulted in the Scotland striker rifling her shot on goal, but Hourihan, was again equal to that task and blocked the fierce effort.

A fine individual piece of skin by Cuthbert again saw the Brighton goalkeeper in unforgiving form, as she paried the effort away for a corner on 30 minutes.

But the Blues would not be denied and two minutes later deep cross by Magda Eriksson was met perfectly by in-running Kirby, who glanced the low volley wide of the Hourihan to open the league season’s goal tally for the Blues.

On 37 minutes, goal number two came from the left boot of Cuthbert as she got to the end of a fine run a byline cross from Bachmann and managed to guide the ball home from close range, sending Hourihan the wrong way.

There were no changes from either side at half-time

The first effort of the second half fell to Brighton and speed merchant Ini Umotong showed a clan pair of heels to Maren Mjelde and her show saw Telford tips the ball away for a corner.

Sloppy play by Chel;sea allowed the same player to attack the three-woman Chelsea defence. But her shot, this time was weak and wayward.

A double chance for Kirby and Cuthbert almost yielded a third goal on 55 minutes, Kirby’s close range effort was well block by Hourihan and Cuthbert’s follow-up volley inched over the Brighton crossbar.

Thorisdottir entered referee Abigail Marriott’s book on 65 minutes for a needless foul in midfield.

Emma Hayes made her fist change of the game, on with 15 minutes left on the clock bringing on Hannah Blundell. Off came ineffectual Jess Carter.

Telford was called into action a min ute later, tipping away another Umotong effort.

Blundell was quickly followed by Bethany England for Bachmann.

Teams: Telford, Thorisdottir, Bright, Carter, Ji, Kirby, Eriksson, Mjelde, Andersson, Cuthbert, Bachmann

Subs: Lindahl, Blundell, Ingle, Riley, England, Spence, Bailey

Brighton: Hourihan, Gibbons, Burt, Whelan, Rafferty, Whelan, Barton, Umotong, Brazil, Green, Williams

Subs: Gillette, Nilden, Peplow, Legg, Perry, Brett

Referee: Abigail Marriott

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