Photo: Chichester City celebrate lifting the Sussex County Cup. (Sheena Booker)
Chichester City are today celebrating winning the Sussex County Women’s Challenge Cup following a 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion Development.
There was barely two minutes on the clock when Molly Clark fired from 30-yards out beating the young Seagulls goalkeeper, Laura Hartley.
Chances came and went for Chi while Brighton also threatened but with a strong, experienced defence the Green Army took home the cup.
Aaron Smith made a couple of changes to the side who beat both Coventry United and Watford as Sara Tubby and Tash Stephens both started, Gracie White received a call-up while Sharna Capel-Watson also returned.
Chichester were taking on the 17 times Sussex Cup winners at Culver Road home of Sussex County FA and Lancing FC and were facing a young Albion Development who had a hatful of international players.
Six of the Brighton squad though had turned out for the first team at least once this season with Beth Roe a regular in the senior Seagull side.
The action started quick and Chi reacted early even before the opener when Nadine Bazan found Stephens in the box who was penalised for a foul as she looked to head the ball in.
Second minute of the game and the ball did find the back of the net through top goal scorer M.Clark.
A poor clearance found M.Clark with all the time and space to whizz the ball back at goal stunning the keeper and the crowd from range.
Three minutes later and Jess Lewry found herself in the box, turning the defence but her effort from an awkward blazed over.
Hartley and her defence were kept very busy in the opening exchanges, the Seagulls’ keeper made a triple save in the eighth minute to deny Chi a second.
Life continued to be difficult for Brighton as the threats in front of goal kept coming, Lewry’s header deflected off a defender was fumbled by Hartley luckily going out for a corner.
While Chi were threatening Brighton were carving out attacks, but Lauren Dolbear remained unchallenged up the other end much of the advances dealt with by the back four.
As the game neared the break Chi still looked the most likely to score a second and nearly capitalised on a couple more fumbles by Hartley.
The keeper nearly dropped Stephen’s header into her net before spilling a Lauren Cheshire lofted shot which was then fired over by Tammy Waine.
Second-half started much the way in finished; Stephens smashed the corner of the goal mouth which was followed up on the volley by Lauren Clark only to be kept out by Hartley’s foot.
Rebecca Barron tried to find a second from two corners however, all her efforts were blocked inside a compact Albion box.
The best shot of the game for Brighton came to Maya Le Tissier, her free-kick well struck rattled the woodwork but the score stayed at 1-0 to Chi.
As play continued both sides took advantage of the rolling substitutions which also saw Brighton switch the keepers to Lucy Williamson.
Ogle and Lewry just couldn’t reach to head in crosses to the back post before Stephens’ long-range effort fell wide.
The pressure was on as time ticked down; Brighton threatened, creating opportunities but Dolbear continued to remain calm in her box.
Bazan found herself in the box for a chance as the game went into five minutes of injury-time her shot saved by Williamson before the keeper reacted quickly to tip over a fierce shot by Lewry.
The referee blew the full-time whistle to sheer delight for the Chichester City players and staff.
Victory in the Sussex County Cup final for the second time in club’s history, five years since the first beating Bexhill United, Crawley Wasps and Brighton & Hove Albion to bring silverware back to Oaklands.
Starting XI: Lauren Dolbear, Nadine Bazan, Lauren Cheshire (C), Tammy Waine, Tiff Taylor, Lauren Clark, Rebecca Barron, Molly Clark, Jess Lewry, Tash Stephen, Sara Tubby
Bench: Laura Ingram, Sharna Capel-Watson, Gemma Simmonds, Gracie White, Helen Ogle.
Updated 13:33 - 19 Apr 2019 by Hayley Newman