Table-toppers Chelsea return to winning ways against Arsenal, Ireland's Connolly stars for Brighton again

A disappointing defeat, another huge performance and a controversial postponement – it was a mixed night for the Irish in the Women’s Super League.

Brighton's Irish duo Megan Connolly and Rianna Jarrett celebrating at the weekend.
Brighton's Irish duo Megan Connolly and Rianna Jarrett celebrating at the weekend.
Image: PA

CHELSEA RETURNED TO winning ways and extended their lead atop the Women’s Super League [WSL] tables with a 3-0 victory over Arsenal on a mixed night for the Irish in the English top-tier.

Ireland and Brighton star Megan Connolly — who enjoyed another top performance tonight — scored the winner that stunned the Blues and ended their two-year unbeaten run on Sunday, but Emma Hayes’ side bounced back on a cold night at Kingsmeadow.

Three-second half goals from Danish superstar Pernille Harder (two — superb finishes, at that) and England’s Fran Kirby leave Chelsea three points clear of Manchester United, and 12 ahead of their opposition tonight, Arsenal.

There was disappointment for Ireland captain Katie McCabe, whose injury-hit Gunners side’s title challenge is surely over after tonight’s hammer blow.

McCabe played the full game for Arsenal, coming close to scoring on one occasion herself, but London rivals Chelsea were just too strong. 

Elsewhere, Brighton made it back-to-back wins with a 1-0 victory over West Ham thanks to a first-half header courtesy of Aileen Whelan. High-flying Connolly was the provider, having acted as the heroic scorer from a header directly from a corner herself at the weekend.

The Cork native put in another fine display in midfield tonight, her corner finding Whelan — who was also on target against the Blues at the weekend — for a decisive 31st-minute goal.

“That Megan Connolly-Aileen Whelan link up,” the WSL tweeted with a video of the goal, before Whelan herself added afterwards:

“Another much-needed three points on the board. Megan Connolly deliveries on point. Proud of everyone tonight.”

Rianna Jarrett joined Cork native and team-mate Connolly on the pitch in the dying minutes, the former Wexford Youths star sprung from the bench with 89 on the clock. Ireland’s US-born ‘keeper Courtney Brosnan was an unused West Ham substitute, while Leanne Kiernan was absent from the squad once again.

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Birmingham City — the home of Irish international duo Harriet Scott and Ruesha Littlejohn — saw their derby clash with Aston Villa postponed due to a frozen pitch, with the news of its cancellation announced just five minutes before the scheduled kick-off.

Tottenham Hotspur and Bristol City’s encounter also fell foul to the conditions. That clash was postponed for the same reason, but earlier in the day.

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Emma Duffy

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