Chelsea dropped their first points of the nascent Women’s Super League Spring Series but only after a 96th-minute equaliser from Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs denied them at the end of Wednesday’s dramatic game in difficult conditions at a rain-soaked Wheatsheaf Park.
Arsenal had started the stronger, zipping the ball about across the wet turf as their opponents made mistakes in possession. Chelsea developed into the game with Hannah Blundell and Bethany England driving forward from wing-back and thereafter both teams traded counter-punches.
Arsenal keeper Sari van Veenendaal was alert as Crystal Dunn ran through, then on hand again when tipping Katie Chapman’s curler over the bar.
The returning Carly Telford saved well from Jodie Taylor after a lung-bursting run by Nobbs.
Yet the goalkeeper’s work was then undone as she miscontrolled in possession allowing Dan Carter to steal the ball off her before falling over the goalkeeper’s legs, conceding a penalty. Telford saved Taylor’s spot-kick but only parried it straight back to the England striker who smashed in the rebound.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes brought on Drew Spence for Karen Carney at half-time but it was the late introduction of Gemma Davison which really changed the game.
She won the free-kick in the 69th minute which Millie Bright stooped to head into the far corner from Maren Mjelde’s superbly whipped delivery. Davison thought she’d scored the winner in the 86th minute but was correctly adjudged to be narrowly offside.
The game seemed to be petering out as the rain finally relented but there was to be late drama at both ends after the referee had signalled for a minimum of four minutes of added time.
In the second, Spence raced through onto Dunn’s beautifully weighted lay-off to slot the ball across van Veenendaal for what seemed to be the winner.
Yet there was still time for Arsenal to contrive an equaliser four minutes later when Nobbs cleverly flicked Carter’s hopeful shot over Telford after excellent wing-play from Heather O’Reilly.