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REPORT | Five star Chichester stay top

By Hayley Newman

Chichester City come out on top in seven goal thriller

From a goal down Chichester City beat Milton Keynes Dons 5-2 following a second-half onslaught.

MK Dons took an early lead with a third minute Charly Clarke penalty but Molly Clark made sure it was level at the break.

Lauren Cheshire scored right after half-time which was quickly followed by Rebecca Barron’s no look header, Sara Tubby netted twice while MK could only get a consolation second in between from Amy Gooderham.

Heading into the match Chi sat top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier and title rivals Coventry United were not in action following postponement in their home game to Portsmouth.

Chi started the better on the ball but the first chance – and goal – would go to the visitors.

Lauren Dolbear was at full stretch to save Louise Naylor’s 25-yard shot from going in however, a minute later the referee pointed to the spot as the ball bounced of the post and onto Tammy Waine’s arm from close range.

Up stepped Clarke to face Dolbear, the Chi goalkeeper dived the right way but the ball grazed her out stretched fingertips and hit the back of the net.

The goal didn’t shake the hosts as moments after Helen Ogle teed up Tash Stephens in the box but the winger’s back flicked attempt flew over the goalmouth.

Movement on the ball was well controlled by Chi and with good composure they built their moves looking for the equaliser.

Molly Clark found the perfect long ball for Stephens on the counter from a MK free-kick however, the muddy Oaklands Park pitch held the ball up for the winger.

Wind and mud at times looked like a third team in the match but Chi continued to control the midfield engineered by the two Clark’s and Barron.

Ogle had two headed opportunities; the first she got under and the second lacked the power to trouble Sophie Shults.

MK seemed happy to soak up the pressure from the hosts and always looked for the quick counter.

Charly Wright’s cross into a good area found Alice Hughes but the forward couldn’t direct that ball towards goal.

The ever dependable Waine got her foot in the way to prevet MK from feeding lone striker Leah Cudone.

Both keepers were called into action in the half Shults diving low to parry M.Clark’s curling free-kick while Dolbear had to jump high to protect her top corner from Wright.

Chi’s patience held and it looked like MK’s defence would too before the break until the hosts were awarded a free-kick directly in front of goal 30-yards out two minutes into first-half injury-time.

M.Clark struck the ball well keeping it straight to soar over the wall and Shults into the roof of the net.

The game had been with Chi throughout the first-half and M.Clark’s equaliser was the positive effect they needed and they would make it count in the second-half.

Two minutes from the restart skipper, Lauren Cheshire added her name to the scoresheet with her first goal in 19 months.

Substitute Cherelle Khassal’s (had replaced an injured Laura Ingram in the first-half) cross was headed on by the MK defence to Cheshire who utilised the space she had to control, set and shoot across the keeper into the bottom corner.

The perfect start to the second-half and it was about to get better.

Barron found herself on the scoresheet although she didn’t know too much about it until she was bundled by her teammates while she looked to see where the ball went.

Clark’s corner found the midfielder at the near post with enough power as it smashed off the back of her head and into the net.

Milton Keynes pulled a goal back just passed the hour mark through a long ball counter to Gooderham to send the ball low and across goal.

With less than two minutes from the restart Tubby restored the two goal advantage when her head connected with substitute Wride’s corner.

It wasn’t long before Tubby made it five for Chi, the clock said two minutes from her 64th minute goal but it was less than a minute from kick-off.

MK played all the way back to their keeper who couldn’t clear in time as Tubby advanced on Shults, the ball smashed the striker and sail back towards the empty net.

With 66 minutes played it was 5-2 to Chi.

The visitors looked for a way back into the game but Waine remained strong to challenge and Cheshire tracked back into time to force a corner which was strongly cleared by Dolbear.

Waine, challenging her former striker role, had a shot from the edge of the centre circle which was claimed by Shults.

No more goals came as the final whistle came ending another strong performance for Chi which kept them top of the National League Southern Premier by five points.

Up next Chichester City travel to the Midlands where title rivals Coventry United await the Green Army in the FA Women’s National League.

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Starting XI: Lauren Dolbear, Lauren Cheshire (c), Tammy Waine, Tiffany Taylor, Laura Ingram (Cherelle Khassal 42'), Molly Clark (Hollie Wride 57'), Lauren Clark, Rebecca Barron, Sara Tubby, Tash Stephens, Helen Ogle (Sharna Capel-Watson 72').
Unused subs: Jess Lewry, Gemma Simmonds.

Updated 13:12 - 28 Jan 2019 by Hayley Newman

Where next?

PREVIEW │ Oxford United v Chichester City Leaders travel to U’s looking to extend lead at the top
Winger Tash Stephens talks about her football journey in MK Dons programme From Somerset to West Sussex Tash Stephens features in issue no.9

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