Adelina Engman produced a get out of jail goal, that the Blues scarcely deserved as they managed to squeeze out a 1-1 draw against Brighton at Crawley’s ground.
The Blues now have four points from two WSL1 games but must improve if they have a chance of overhauling Arsenal or Manchester City.
Deep into added time substitute Adelina Engman crashed home the vital goal from close range, one Chelsea barely deserved.
Last season, the lack of early goals saw a flurry of 0-0 draws. The Blues’ season was over by the end of October.
The early exchanges saw some tough tackling with the home side determined not to let Chelsea develop any fluidity.
Chelsea had a glorious chance to score on 17 minutes when centre-back Millie Bright raced into the Seagulls’ penalty area, having played a one-two with Drew Spence. Bright chested the ball down, but then flashed a venomous right-footer high over Megan Walsh’s goal.
England then saw a low left-footer inch wide of the Walsh’s left post as the Blues started to pepper the home side’s goal.
Another glorious chance went begging four minutes from the break when as Maren Mjelde cross from the right was met by Cuthbert at the far post. The ball had beaten the goalkeeper, but the Scotland international could not direct the sliding effort on goal.
Danielle Bowman received a yellow card for scything down Guro Reitman on 48 minutes.
Spence drew a fine save from Walsh following the free-kick. The stopper tipping the ball around the post for a corner.
A decidedly lacklustre second half display by Chelsea resulted in boss Emma Hayes bringing on Switzerland international Ramona Bachmann on 64 minutes. Spence made way.
That change meant Cuthbert moved more centrally as Bachmann took her wide berth.
Cuthbert lasted until the 81st minute before being replaced by Adelina Engman.
Disaster struck for the Blues three minutes later when a corner was not cleared and Aileen Whelan pounced on a second ball phase and smashed home past Ann-Katrina Berger.
Sophie Ingle was taken off to be replaced bu Maria Thorisdottir.
Bright was then yellow-carded for clattering into Kayleigh Green. Then with seconds remaining the Blues found some mojo and managed to square the match.
It was left to Engman to spare the Blues blushes to tuck the ball home from close range.
Next up for Chelsea is a home Continental Tyres cup match against West Ham United next Sunday.
Chelsea: Berger, Bright, Ingle, England, Ji, Reiten, Eriksson, Mjelde, Andersson, Cuthbert, Spence
Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Asante, Carter, Engman, Cooper, Bachmann
Brighton: Gibbons, Bowman, Whelan, Umotong, Lundorf, Kerdijk, Brazil, Connolly, Williams, Le Garret
Subs: Harris, Whelan, Barton, Natkiel, Nilden, Green, Simpkins