Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes slammed her side for a lack of character which saw their 33-game unbeaten record in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League come to an end with a 2-1 loss at the hands of strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion.
Australia international Sam Kerr headed the defending champions in front after just five minutes, but Aileen Whelan nodded the Seagulls level just three minutes later.
Bethany England hit the crossbar from 12-yards out while Sophie Ingle and Pernille Harder also went close as Chelsea pushed for the winner, but it was Brighton’s Megan Connolly who netted the decisive goal straight from a corner with just 12 minutes left.
Chelsea remain top of the table on goal difference despite defeat, but Hayes admitted there were few positives to take after falling short against a team who had last won in the league in November.
“I thought our intention, our intensity and our aggression were really poor today,” said Hayes. “When you play in these games you have to take the game to the opponent, you have to work for spaces, for chances and to regain the ball. I don’t think we did that very well at all.
“We’ve given away two set piece goals, and I don’t think that’s something we’ve done throughout my whole time at this club. That was extremely disappointing.
“It’s obviously frustrating to lose but Manchester United have also lost today, and I think we’ve been served with a reminder that if you’re not on it in this league then you can be turned over by anyone.”
A home clash against 15-time league winners Arsenal in mid-week represents an opportunity for Chelsea to quickly bounce back from their shock first loss of the season.
And Hayes has challenged her charges to prove the unusual shortcoming was merely a blip, and to re-establish themselves as the front-runners for the WSL title.
She added: “I talk so much about character and resilience in my dressing…