Following an inspiring performance in the recent County Challenge Cup Final defeat to Crawley Wasps earlier in the week, Chichester took to the field at Front lawn in Havant to take on an impressive Watford side in the much delayed quarter final of the FA Women’s National League Plate competition with a road trip to Middlesbrough awaiting the winners in the semi final.
Watford started brightly and made an early statement of intent when Leanne Bell surged down the right hand side and delivered a telling cross into the danger zone. Chichester did enough to clear the danger but the quality of the cross certainly gave them food for thought as to what to expect as the game wore on.
The youthful green and whites would always find life difficult playing their second game in three days, but Gemma Staple had a glorious chance to open her account when put in on goal by the ever impressive Rebecca Bell. Her shot was easy meat for keeper, Nina Wilson, who made a comfortable save but opportunity could certainly breed confidence in the Chichester side. Sadly, just before the quarter hour the door was unlocked by the hornets but only in fortuitous fashion.
From a corner, Chichester made a bit of hash in trying to clear the ball and it fell, kindly, at the feet of Emma Beckett who, despite scuffing her effort, saw the strike bobble, agonizingly, past the outstretched hand of green and white keeper, Izzy Forster. Chichester were frustrated and hadn’t had time to fully re-group when Helen Ward took advantage, from the restart, to burst through and slot into an empty net having eased past Forster, who had come off her line to challenge the on rushing player.
The green and whites did manage to settle things down after that and looked to find a way back into the tie. Lucy Cook was a danger covering a lot of ground to try and work space and chances and any time Bell got on the ball she was flying down the wing but the Watford keeper, Wilson, was left untroubled as no final product could be manufactured by Chichester in the final third of the pitch.
Chichester’s task was made even more taxing when, on the half hour, Megan Chandler was afforded far too much time to set her sights from distance and produced a wonderful shot that flew over Forster into the back of the home side’s net.
The score line seemed harsh at this point but Chichester kept going, still harbouring thoughts of a miraculous comeback. Approaching the break things seemed all too comfortable for the visitors and their assured passing and effective pace gave them impressive possession and territory stats and changes would be needed by the green and whites if a repost could be on the cards in the second half.
Sophie Phelps came on at the re-start to bolster the defence and Chichester, to their credit, were definitely improved, seeing more of the ball and taking the game to Watford a good deal more than they did in the first period. However, throwing a little caution to the wind meant that Watford would have further chances and they eventually took one just after the hour mark when Danielle Scanlon let fly with a cross come shot that was too good for Forster and nestled neatly in the bottom corner to, effectively, end the tie as a contest.
Gemma Simmonds and Priscilla Martins both came on for Chichester in the second half and, to their great credit, the side fought on and made life testing for the hornets who were unable to add to their tally before the final whistle went. Overall it was a hard day at the office for the Chichester team and they go again on Wednesday with another tough trip away to Crawley Wasps who only just got the better of them in the Challenge Cup Final last week.
The future of Chichester City Ladies is certainly a positive one and league duties the priority now the focus will be to find the results, starting with the Wasps, to move away from the relegation battle at the earliest opportunity.
CCLFC: Izzy Foster, Lucy Cook, Jessica Burke, Megan Fox, Amber Howden, Rebecca Bell, Gemma Staple, Gemma White, Agnes Laczkovski, Catlin Collighan and Nicky Lake
SUBS: Sophie Phelps, Jamie Rowlands, Gemma Simmonds, Priscilla Martins and Tash Wild