Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham
Chelsea Ladies missed out on a huge opportunity to close the gap on FA Women's Super League leaders Birmingham City on Saturday when they saw a one-goal lead snatched from their grasp just nine minutes from time at Tooting and Mitcham FC.
Despite playing second fiddle for most of the first half, the London side came out fighting after the interval and took the lead thanks to a touch of good fortune from the elements.
With 71 minutes played, Claire Rafferty swung in a dangerous corner with her cultured left boot before a gust of wind steered it goalwards and into the roof of the net, despite the best efforts of City keeper Marie Hourihan.
The visitors had dominated possession for much of the game prior to the opener, but Chelsea were standing firm and, with the help of some hard battling and a raft of full-blooded challenges in the middle of the park, restricted David Parker's team to only one clear-cut chance in the first half.
Karen Carney burst clear to latch onto Rachel Williams' through ball and rounded the keeper but Chelsea's Gemma Bonner recovered to clear off the line.
Midway through a more even second half, the opener arrived - just a minute after Parker introduced Isobel Christiansen in place of Jade Moore.
But while she could take no blame for the goal, she played a crucial part in the one which drew her side level.
Christiansen was causing havoc down the right wing late on and on the 81 minute mark she fed Kerys Harrop on the penalty spot, before she swivelled and fired home to clinch a precious point for the league leaders.
And they almost came away from the south London venue with all three points after Carney found space outside the box to launch a superlative strike towards the top right-hand corner, but Carly Telford was equal to it palming the ball clear at full stretch.
CHELSEA LADIES - Carly Telford, Sophie Perry, Kylie Davis, Gemma Bonner; Danni Buet, Drew Spence (Rebecca Jane 90), Leanne Champ, Ashlee Hincks; Hayley Moorwood, Helen Lander.
Subs Not Used: Sarah Quantrill, Lara Fay, Danni Bird, Emma PLewa.
BIRMINGHAM CITY LADIES - Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston, Sally Stanton, Lauara Bassett, Kerys Harrop; Dani Susi, Jo Potter, Jade Moore (Isobel Christiansen 70), Emily Westwood; Rachel Williams, Karen Carney.
Subs Not Used: Jess Wright, Laura Watts. Eartha Pound, Marie Ballard
BOOKINGS: CHELSEA: Leanne Champ (37, late tackle). BIRMINGHAM CITY: None.
SENDINGS OFF: CHELSEA: None. BIRMINGHAM CITY: None.
GOALS: CHELSEA: C Rafferty (71). BIRMINGHAM CITY: Kerys Harrop (81).
REFEREE: A Mead.