When Chelsea manager Emma Hayes sat down for her post-match press conference on Sunday, after the Blues had opened their new Women’s Super League season with a 2-1 win over Spurs, one journalist wanted to talk about Lauren James. The England star has captured the attention of a nation in the past year and showed her quality again at the weekend when she netted Chelsea’s second.
Hayes, though, wanted to talk about others. She wanted to talk about Niamh Charles, James’ England team-mate who assisted both goals, and she wanted to talk about Mia Fishel, the lesser-known American forward who scored on her debut, having led the line in the absence of Sam Kerr.
“She is so coachable and malleable,” Hayes said of the forward, who joined the Blues this summer from Mexican side Tigres. “Whatever instruction we're giving her she is just picking it up right away. I think she's very thoughtful about her intention. She really wanted to come to Chelsea and she knew the squad. She wants to be there training with the best and learning.”
Fishel was excellent on her debut, playing brilliantly with her back to goal as Chelsea’s starting centre-forward. Her neat footwork, strength to hold off Spurs defenders and link-up play with her new team-mates all stood out, the latter particularly impressive with James despite this being the pair’s first competitive outing together.
The moment the 22-year-old will remember most, though, came in the 28th minute when she headed Charles’ cross beyond goalkeeper Becky Spencer to give Chelsea, the club she has supported since she was eight years old, the lead at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s a dream come true,” she told the Sky Sports cameras afterwards. It’s a dream that has so much more to come, too. It’s early days but Fishel looks to be exactly what Chelsea – and Kerr – need as they pursue a record fifth-successive WSL title.