Points were shared at Kingsmeadow on Sunday as two heavyweights of women’s football locked horns in what was billed as a possible WSL title decider.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was left frustrated by the result, blaming the international break which resulted in her squad only returning to training two days earlier.

It was a game she felt her side should have won: “Do I think it was a 1-0 game? Yes, I do. Did Karen Bardsley have more to do than Hedvig Lindahl? Yes, she did. But it’s a long season, and the league isn’t going to be won and lost today.”

After an uneventful first half hour in which both sides largely cancelled each other out, the home side ended the first half in the ascendency with Ji So-Yun and Ramona Bachmann constantly causing problems for the City defence. The best chance of the half came through Maren Mjelde on 36 minutes though, with Bardsley tipping her 25-yard drive round the post.

City manager Nick Cushing made a change at the break, replacing the ineffective Lauren Hemp with Nadia Nadim, and the substitute played a key role in her side’s best spell of the game at the start of the second period. Her hold-up play and knockdowns helped City get higher up the pitch and create chances, but they never really managed to trouble Lindahl in goal.

Eventually Hayes decided changes to her side were needed too, with her three substitutes changing the game in a dominant final 20 minutes in which Chelsea had numerous opportunities to break the deadlock. The best of those fell to Ji in the 75th minute, but she took too long over shooting and lost possession to the frustration of her manager, who claimed at the final whistle that it was the moment the game could have been won.

Hayes made it clear that her side are not yet the finished article, stressing: “We need time together as a group; we played a new system; we’ve got new players. You can’t just snap your fingers and it happens.”