Ladies report: Man City Women 2 Chelsea Ladies 2

Chelsea Ladies' lead in the WSL table remains at one point after a dramatic Saturday lunchtime encounter at City’s Academy Stadium.

Despite a performance with much to admire, there will be disappointment in the Blues camp that we did not take all three points having led 2-0 at the break. Millie Bright opened the scoring with a rocket right at the start and Ji So-Yun finished a flowing move to give us that advantage and it could have been greater.

City pulled a goal back shortly after half-time and despite a second half containing plenty of other chances for the visitors, an unstoppable shot near the end by Georgia Stanway meant it finished all square for the second time this season between the league’s top two.

Emma Hayes once again made the most of the strength in depth she has in her squad by naming 10 changes from the side which won at Yeovil on Wednesday, and the freshness was there for all to see early on.

Within the first minute Anita Asante, captain today, brushed off a challenge and played a pass for Fran Kirby to chase. Although the 15-goal striker beat the retreating defence and Ellie Roebuck in the City goal to the ball, the angle was against her and she could not convert.

Kirby soon had another shot blocked, as did Spence after a corner was not cleared fully although that second effort was then laid back into the path of Mille Bright who hammered it high into the net. 1-0 to Chelsea with only five minutes on the clock.

The Blues were finding acres of space to attack down our left, but the next real chance to extend the advantage came from a brilliant reverse pass through the centre by Drew Spence to release Kirby. The England striker cut inside and took an extra touch before shooting and City blocked. Now it was their turn to threaten when Nikita Parris broke free but Hedvig Lindahl was quickly out and strong in the tackle.

The midway point of the half passed with Chelsea having clearly been the better team, emphasised soon after with goal number two. Spence slipped Ji the ball for a dart into the area. The South Korean had the presence of mind to exchange passes with Crystal Dunn and then score with a low shot. It was wonderfully crafted goal.

Lindahl saved from Parris and Jill Scott had a shot deflected wide as City sought a foothold in the game but Kirby, who had also had a shot saved after the second goal, almost profited from a goalmouth scramble with 32 minutes played.

Chelsea’s passing and movement was so good we were finding space with ease, and Bachmann from an angle forced a diving save with Ji’s attempt to curl in the rebound blocked. Kirby on the run then fired wide. The Blues were very good value for a 2-0 half-time lead.

Bachmann had a chance for 3-0 three minutes after the restart but shot too close to the keeper and City pulled a goal back a minute later from a counter-attack. Demi Stokes crossed to the far post for Parris to head powerfully in.

Would we be left to rue not making more of our first-half domination? Bachmann had another attempt but fired across the face of goal. The Blues still had the upper hand and our Swiss striker tested Roebuck with a shot towards the bottom corner which she pushed wide.

Bright could not hit the target with a header from a Magda Eriksson corner and Dunn shot disappointingly over as the game entered its closing 20 minutes. The lead was still a narrow one and there was much relief when Parris had another clear-cut chance at the far-post but this time shot wide.

The Blues could have made sure of a win but Roebuck saved superbly from substitute Erin Cuthbert and in the 87th-minute it was a City substitute, Stanway, who inflicted the pain of the late equaliser with an unstoppable shot from distance.

There was still time for Cuthbert and Dunn to have close-range shots blocked in quick succession but there was to be no late winner. The race for the WSL title looks set to be a close one.

Chelsea (3-4-1-2) Lindahl; Bright, Asante (c), Erikssonn; Blundell, Mjelde, Ji, Dunn; Spence (Cuthbert 56); Kirby (Thorisdottir 84), Bachmann (Aluko 90+2).
Unused sub 
Telford, Andersson, Carney, Davison.
Bright 6, Ji 23
Ji 79

Man City Roebuck; Stokes, Beattie, McManus, Morgan; Parris, Scott (c), Walsh, Christiansen (Stanway 66), Spetsmark (Emslie h-t); Nadim (Ross 80).
Unused sub 
Bardsley, Jans, Lawley, Toone.
Scorers Parris 49, Stanway 87