Photo: Cherelle Khassal scores before the break. (Sheena Booker)
A slow start and an Emma Jones hat-trick in 31 minutes saw Chichester City succumb to their fourth league defeat of the season as Cardiff City ran out 4-2 winners.
Jones gave the hosts the advantage although Cherelle Khassal grabbed a goal back before half-time.
Chloe Lloyd made it four with minutes to go with a wonder strike from 40-yards and Jess Lewry got a second for Chi quickly after, but it was only a consolation in the end.
There were four changes made to the side including loanee Nina Wilson who made her debut in place of the injured Lauren Dolbear and there was a welcome return for Nadine Bazan who started on the bench.
The game started brightly for Cardiff and they were on top from the get-go playing long balls forward to their pacey attackers.
It paid off for the home side as six minutes in Jones got her first goal of the afternoon.
Jones was fed the ball from over the top of the defence as she beat the offside trap and drove into the box to slot home past Wilson.
Chi created a couple of opportunities from the goal, Molly Clark saw her effort deflected to the goalkeeper and Hollie Wride’s free-kick was comfortably saved as well.
Khassal found herself driving into the box as Sara Tubby flicked the ball through but the Irish attacker shot at the keeper.
With 25 minutes played Cardiff doubled their advantage on a quick counter that saw Jones finish the move with a low shot into the net.
The hosts continued to look threatening and made it 3-0 in the 31st minute as Jones completed her hat-trick.
This time a free-kick that wasn’t dealt with by the Chi defence and left Wilson wrong-footed as Jones volleyed in from 6-yards out.
With a mountain to climb the visitors finally settled on the ball and looked to utilise the pace, they had in Khassal and Stephens.
Three minutes from the break and Khassal got a goal back for Chi as she pressed the Cardiff backline to tuck the ball away.
M.Clark nearly made it 3-2 at the break when Wride headed the ball down for a volleyed shot but it narrowly missed.
Lewry was brought on in place of Stephens and Chi started the second-half as strongly as they finished the first.
Khassal tried to get her head on the ball but the keeper dealt before quickly claiming a dinked effort from Wride.
Cardiff were always looking to hit the ball long and get in behind the defence but Wilson confident off her line came out to clear in good time.
The pace of Lewry saw Chi with an opportunity, the attacker drove into the box from the wing squaring for Khassal but she was denied her chance as Cardiff blocked.
On the hour mark, Khassal had to come off as she was brought down under a strong challenge from behind and Bazan came on for her first game since November.
Chi enjoyed more of the ball as the clocked ticked down and created moves down the wing, through the middle and delivered into the box but the Cardiff keeper along with her defenders remained resolute.
Tiff Taylor and Tammy Waine were kept busy throughout the game and recovered well several times denying Cardiff before they got into the box.
Their defensive efforts couldn’t stop Lloyd in the 86th minute when she struck from 40-yards aiming straight at goal and the ball soared into the net beating Wilson at full stretch.
It lasted only two minutes though as Chi hit back with Lewry scoring as she and Bazan put pressure on the hosts in their own goalmouth.
The final moments including six minutes of injury-time was all Chi however, the comeback wasn’t to be as the keeper claimed everything in the air.
Full-time came and the game finished 4-2 to Cardiff City.
Up next Chichester City will host Queens Park Rangers in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier.
The game will kick-off at 3pm at the Countrywide Gas Stadium, entry is £4 for adults and just £1 for under-16s.
Starting XI: Nina Wilson, Laura Ingram, Tammy Waine, Tiffany Taylor, Gemma Simmonds, Molly Clark, Hollie Wride (c), Lauren Clark (Sharna Capel-Watson), Sara Tubby, Cherelle Khassal (Nadine Bazan) Tash Stephens (Jess Lewry 46’).
Updated 20:31 - 25 Feb 2019 by Hayley Newman