Chelsea Women won 1-0 against a newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur Women side in the first Women’s Super League game to be hosted at Stamford Bridge.
Beth England scored with a thunderous left-footed shot from 25 yards out on the third minute of the game. Chelsea had other chances, notably a Drew Spence chance that forced Becky Spencer to palm the ball on to the cross bar, debutant Guro Reiten then hit the bar seconds later.
Manager Emma Hayes said: “Should we have won the game by a bigger score line? Yes. When you coach professional players and they fly all over the place they have to adjust just as much as they do in the men’s game but with that you get erratic play, spotty in terms of the physical levels etc. If this is a game that goes out of sight and we win 4-0 it then gives us a bigger goal difference which you want but I just wanted three points because I know what it’s like to draw multiple games.”
“I’ve got a smaller squad and in Champions League years, where we’ve been in that competition, you can’t have a smaller squad but I much prefer one. Bigger spirit and I think collectively as a group you’ve got everyone pulling in the same direction.”
Reiten enjoyed an impressive debut and she was a constant threat for Tottenham on the right wing. As well as the aforementioned chance where she hit the post she also forced another good save our of Spencer on the 78th minute from a free-kick at the corner of the box.
“I was certain Guro would bury both of them but let’s not forget that’s a player who’s making her debut who quite possibly shouldn’t have played as long as a debutant but with the injuries we have had to. She’s fitted in seamlessly and I actually said to Kelly Smith two days ago that she reminds me of Kelly in lots of things she does and I actually felt she deserved to get on the scoresheet today.”
Stamford Bridge welcomed a crowd of 24,564 fans for Chelsea’s season opener and Hayes attributes the continued success and growth of the woman’s game on the recent success of the women’s World Cup.
“For us it’s about recognising opportunities. First, we’ve got to build on getting people to Kingsmeadow and then when the right opportunities present themselves to play here, and the same for all the other teams across the league, we will have a blueprint of how to market this game.”
“You can’t build the game unless the product is right. This would have been a disaster if the game was six or seven nil. Thank Goodness it wasn’t and that sounds a bit odd as the manager but I care about the game.”