Claire Rafferty’s unfortunate late own goal saw Chelsea Ladies suffer a 2-1 home defeat against Manchester City Women in front of a record crowd of 1,857 fans at Staines FC.
Eni Aluko’s second-half strike had cancelled out Toni Duggan’s opener and looked like earning a deserved point that would have taken Chelsea level on points with Sunderland Ladies and Arsenal Ladies at the top of the Women’s Super League.
But Rafferty deflected Steph Houghton’s disputed free-kick in to her own net with three minutes left, meaning Chelsea stay third following back-to-back league defeats.
The visitors looked sharper in the early stages and led when Duggan coolly finished in to the far corner from the left side of the box after Hannah Blundell was caught out by Daphne Corboz’s clever diagonal ball in behind.
But after that 12th-minute setback, Chelsea settled and just about edged a fiercely competitive half, full of feisty challenges but lacking goalmouth incident.
Gemma Davison and Aluko looked the likeliest creator of a goal, Aluko having a couple of shots blocked and Davison causing panic with some nifty footwork and direct running.
And Chelsea made the most of their momentum to level within three minutes of the resumption, Aluko showing great feet on the edge of the box and taking an early shot which caught out England team-mate Karen Bardsley in the City goal.
Both sides showed ambition to find a winner in an intriguing second period, but Chelsea’s pace posed the greater threat.
Aluko remained a constant menace and also headed over from Davison’s cross while Ji So-Yun failed to properly connect with a fine shooting chance from inside the box.
But City stole the points when Rafferty attempted to head away Houghton’s strike past keeper Hedvig Lindahl.