Chichester City Ladies 2 - 4 Crystal Palace Ladies
Eagles take the spoils on hot afternoon by the sea
Crystal Palace ladies made the trip to the south coast, this week, as Chichester City Ladies hosted their first home game of their debut season in FAW Premier League Southern and, for the second week running came away empty handed despite another encouraging performance all round.
Both teams started at a strong pace from the off but few chances were apparent in the early going with both keepers rarely tested. Ciara Sherwood then got a sighter of goal and let fly but Sadie Wilson-Blakely was easily behind the effort and pouched the ball with ease. The Eagles had won comfortably last time out and it wasn’t too long before they finally undid the Chichester defence to open their account and it was a rare defensive slip that would prove costly for the hosts.
Just after the quarter hour a corner was swung in from the left and the green defence failed to deal with it efficiently and the ball fell to the feet of Sherwood who slammed a shot passed Wilson-Blakely from around ten yards to rapturous applause from behind the goal from the travelling support. Chichester didn’t let their heads drop and soon Charley Wilson-Blakely and Cherelle Khassal were finding room approaching the visitor’s penalty area and Crystal Palace had to show all their tenacity and skill to prevent the hosts from gaining a quick repost from going behind. Sadly, for the green army, all their efforts were undone by another stroke of fortune that allowed the Eagles to double their lead through the excellent Nikita Whinnett.
This time Gemma Bryan raced in on goal and her scoring attempt was well saved by Wilson-Blakely but only onto the path of unchecked Whinnett who slotted into the empty net to put the Eagles in firm control of the tie with less than half an hour on the clock. Chichester kept plugging away and right on the half hour, deservedly, got on the score sheet with their first goal of the new season and it came from the ever present Charley Wilson-Blakely. Jenna Fowlie worked some magic down the left and swung in a brilliant cross and Wilson-Blakely met it with a perfect header that was too good for the keeper, Megan Lynch. Chichester took great heart from this moment and came on strong in the remainder of the half but couldn’t find another chance to, possibly draw level and so went into the interval trailing by the single goal and very definitely still in the match.
Hopes for a second half response from the hosts were dealt a huge blow with only a minute or so gone after the restart when they were caught out at the back by another quality attack from the Eagles. This time Ellie Bailes was the beneficiary of a loose ball in the box and was able to poke it under Sadie Wilson-Blakely and into the back of the net. This was, somewhat, harsh on the hosts going on what had happened before the break but the set back was met by a firm reply as Chichester threw everything they had at Crystal Palace but were not able to find a finish to a good deal of excellent work. Charley Wilson-Blakely and Khassal both had chances and Jess Lewry should have scored when racing through on goal, rounding Lynch but then seeing her goal bound effort, somehow, cleared off the line by last ditch defending by Steph Simmons.
As the half wore on the visitors began to sense that Chichester may be tiring, due to all their sterling efforts and took advantage with the game into its last five minutes of normal time when Bryan, with a spring in her step, surged into the box and fired a low shot into the back of the net to seal the points for the visitors. Due to several injury stoppages in the second half the referee added some seven minutes on after full time and in the last minute of the seven Chichester grabbed a deserved second goal with a sublime volley from Gemma Simmons.
Simmonds was unchecked in the box to smash home a Lucie Challen corner at the back post to earn the hosts great respectability from the game and the knowledge of cup duties to come next week will, hopefully, see Chichester rediscover that winning formula that has been hard to come by so far this season.