We faced heartbreak in the final of the Continental League Cup as we conceded an injury-time goal to lose to Chelsea at the City Ground on Saturday.
The first chance of the afternoon fell to the Blues as Guro Reiten collected the ball in space and drove into the box, before Viktoria Schnaderbeck produced a fantastic last-ditch block to divert her powerful strike away from goal.
Moments later, Chelsea did find the breakthrough when a ball lofted deep into the box was headed across goal by Reiten, before Bethany England controlled well and struck the ball low into the bottom corner from close range.
We almost hit back immediately, however, when Katie McCabe’s accurate whipped cross was met by Louise Quinn, whose header was desperately clawed off the goalline by Ann-Katrin Berger.
Vivianne Miedema was finding her feet in the match and forced Berger into an acrobatic save when she cut inside from the byline and struck a goalbound shot towards the top corner midway through the first half.
England was proving to be Chelsea’s main goal threat and she almost doubled their lead when she lost her maker inside the box, but saw her powerful header hit the outside of the netting.
On the stroke of half-time we created our best chance of the first 45 when Miedema spun her marker then played Caitlin Foord into the box, but the Australia international fired wide of the target.
We started the second half strongly, with our first chance coming from a smartly taken free-kick when Miedema rolled the ball to McCabe, who saw her powerful drive deflected wide. Miedema then had a chance of her own soon after when she won back possession on the edge of the box and fizzed a low effort just past the far post.
With 20 minutes remaining the Dutch international came close once again when Foord stood up an inviting ball towards the back post and Miedema’s powerful header was tipped round the post by Berger.
Chelsea’s ‘keeper was fast becoming their hero in the closing stages and she produced a fine reaction save to deny Miedema from close range, after our forward had taken the ball down well and fired towards goal.
From the resulting corner, a header at the near post caused the ball to pinball inside the six-yard-box, before Leah Williamson slammed home the equaliser from close range, sparking jubilant celebrations.
The game looked certain to head to extra-time but deep into injury time, Chelsea re-took the lead when Sam Kerr skipped past a challenge to find space inside the box, then squared the ball to England who slotted into an empty net.
We next face Tottenham Hotspur at Meadow Park in the Women’s FA Cup on Sunday, March 15, at 1pm (UK time).
By Sam Cox
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