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  • By Paul Lagan at Solihull Moors FC

Kirby: I’ve been working on my jump but I was in the right place at the right time

Fran Kirby leapt like a salmon, perhaps it was inspired by the colour of the kit, but it was enough to loop the ball over goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and land the ball into the back of the net to secure a vital 1-0 victory for Chelsea against a resolute Birmingham City in this afternoon‘s WSL1 match at Solihull.

It was a one sided match in terms of possession, the west Londoners must have had the thick part of 90 per cent, but it was a tight encounter in terms of goal chances, but ‘mini Messi’ Kirby was the match-winner and It was justified as she produced another sparkling performance to add to her goal following last season’s illness-ridden season.

She said she was even practicing her leap.

“It’s not often I get a looping header,” she said.

”I’ve been working a lot in training in getting my jump better and getting myself more power to get off the floor, I was pretty lucky where the ball landed and I just wanted to be a bit of a nuisance in the box, to get to any second phases, any knock downs. I was in the right place at the right time.”

It was a game of defence versus attack but something Chelsea were expecting.

Kirby said: “You have to respect your opponents, who you are up against. Birmingham are really defensively solid. They defended their box really well, and we had to try and break them down. We struggled but still had chances.

“For us to score from a set piece is always nice. it’s something we work on in training. We focused a lot on keeping a clean sheet, to be solid, to be working on our transitions - when we lose the ball, how quickly can we get it back. We want to make sure we win every game, so we will set up in a way so that we can do that.

“Luckily for us we managed to get three points and a clean sheet.“

She said: “It will be a completely different game. Obviously both teams will want to attack as much as possible. For us, we have to analyse what we did well against Birmingham, and what we can do better to take into the game on Wednesday.

“The win will give us confidence going into that game.

But we know that we have to be really on it. And ready again on Sunday against Manchester City. But right now, our focus is on Arsenal.

“We will be looking at their weaknesses, and working out how to exploit them in certain areas. Also we need to focus on keeping another clean sheet.”

Kirby has returned fresh and full of running after losing last season to pericarditis, a condition that produces an inflammation to the fluid sac around the heart.

It happened in November after their 1-0 win over Manchester United. Kirby, 27 said ”As for my health, I’m not worried. At the start, there is the slight worry about ‘what if this comes back. If I get myself in a good spot and have to take another break.’ “For me now, I’m just focusing on the positives, everything I went through at the time was a negative.

“I allowed myself to recover, to rest, but now I’m 100 per cent. I have no doubts in terms of my fitness, I’m out on the pitch, I’m training well, playing well, so I want to maintain that and keep improving and developing.“

For those who have had illnesses, sometime in the middle of the night, one can wake up and worry. But Kirby is not one of those people

“I’m sleeping the best I’ve ever slept at the moment,” she said.

”I have not worries or doubts about anything right now. I’m fully fit, and fully focused to give everything for my team.”


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