By Tim Harrison
A mistimed header from a player who has been one of the most consistent performers of the season proved that Chelsea Ladies are human after all.
In a blank week for the men through internationals, spare a thought for Magda Eriksson, part of the three-woman defence who had – until the weekend’s foray to play Reading – been pivotal in maintaining clean sheets for 400 minutes of Super League football.
She arrived at Adams Park, bopped into the changing rooms from the team coach to Abba on her headphones, withstood the onslaught from a team who fought like tigers for every ball, made a crucial goal-line clearance with moments to go… then tried to head a free kick to safety in stoppage time, only to see the ball fly past her own keeper and close pal Hedvig Lindahl in the Chelsea goal.
It was cruel on the 24-year-old Swede, and it meant Reading gained a point in a 2-2 draw which pushed the Blues down the table behind Manchester City.
The left back was practically in tears as she was comforted by her teammates when she crumpled on to the ground after the own goal, but manager Emma Hayes was one of the first to wrap a comforting arm around her at the end, and insisted on putting a positive spin on the result.
Hayes was upbeat, praising Karen Carney and Eni Aluko for the goals which helped the Blues come from behind against a surprisingly strong side on Sunday.
“I’m not disappointed with my team; I’m very proud of them,” she said at the final whistle. “We’re still unbeaten domestically.”
Lindahl said afterwards: “We knew Reading were going to be tough and playing against them away is not an easy challenge. All things considered, and the unfortunate own goal, we still think we managed to come away from the game with the upper hand at least, even though we didn’t get all the points.”
The result means the pressure will be even more intense on Sunday December 10 when Manchester City visit Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea’s men are away to West Brom this weekend.
You can find details of future Chelsea Ladies matches on the Chelsea FC website.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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