C&K Basildon Ladies 2 - 0 Chichester City Ladies
Reality check for Chichester as Basildon quality shines in season opener
Chichester City Ladies were hit with a sizeable reality check, this week, as the new FA women’s premier south term got under way with a very frustrating away defeat to C&K Basildon, whom themselves were high runner last season out and will be looking for better things this time.
Nerves were definitely on show in the early stages, from Chichester, making their debut at this level of the women’s game after the resounding promotion success from last season but after only five minutes they were behind to a sensational goal from April-Rose Bowers. Bowers was given just too much time on the edge of the area to pick her spot and she did just that with a superb, curling effort to leave Chichester’s keeper, Sadie Wilson-Blakey, routed to the spot with no chance. Basildon took great heart from this early lead and continued to probe with the likes of Karissa Rodney and Angela Addison looking particularly spritely and dangerous and the fear was that Chichester could find themselves with a mountain to climb but the defensive quad did their stuff to keep the blues at bay.
As the half wore on the nerves certainly ebbed away for the green army and the likes of Cherelle Khassal and Charley Wilson-Blakely were seeing a lot more of ball and Chloe Dowdell saw more space down the right to plant some really teasing crosses into the area causing a few worrying moments for the hosts but they, effectively, cleared their lines to keep their noses in front drawing towards the interval. Jess Lewry then got a sighter of goal and let fly only for keeper, Nikita Runnacles, made a good save to avert the danger as Chichester continued to press to try and find a way back into the tie.
Next Wilson-Blakely showed excellent strength to out-muscle a defender on the bye line and sent in a quality cross and Khassal volley strongly but only into the welcoming hands of Runnacles as Chichester came even closer yet to gaining parity against their more experienced opponents. Only a goal down at the break but only a minute had elapsed in the second half when the blues doubled their lead. This time Addison, who had been a constant threat toyed with Chichester defenders before shooting through a crowd. Wilson-Blakely made a good save but could only parry into the path of the steely Danica Revell who slammed the ball home at the back stick.
Chichester, to their great credit never gave up and had two golden chances to open their account for the season as both Wilson-Blakely and Khassal got clean through on goal but Runnacles was excellent between the sticks to deny them both when a goal seemed inevitable on both occasions. Chichester were having, by far, their best period of the game but the luck just wasn’t with them on this occasion and time eventually ran out but their efforts have to be applauded and can only go to give great heart and promise for games to come. Next week they embark on their first home game of the new season against a Crystal Palace side that, themselves, enjoyed a thumping win, first time out, against QPR so an exciting game at Oaklands can be expected and the adventure will continue in earnest.