Chichester ladies whip up a beach football sandstorm in Portsmouth

Chichester City ladies celebrate their beach football success
Chichester City ladies celebrate their beach football success

They went to Portsmouth and they conquered.

Chichester City Ladies turned on the style to sweep aside Pompey and Brighton in the England Beach Soccer National Championship qualifier.

They were unstoppable – winning three of their four matches and drawing one in the league format competition to finish top with 11 points.

The Chichester side, coached by Liam Greenfield, who is also a coach of the ladies’ national beach soccer team, opened up with a 5-0 win over Pompey on the beach volleyball courts in Southsea.

They then beat Brighton 1-0 on penalties after a 2-2 draw – earning two points for a penalty win. Brighton missed their opening kick, with Chichester’s Abbey Shrubb making no mistake to seal victory.

That win came despite an injury to Jade Widdowson while attempting an audacious bicycle kick.

The third match they played was an epic 4-1 win over Pompey. Chichester led 1-0 at the break but Gemma Hillier fired in a brilliant equaliser for the Blues.

It seemed set to go to the wire, with the Pompey side – who included several of their stars from the Premier League side on grass – pressing for a winner, but Chichester struck three sensational goals from distance to blast their way to victory.

Goals from Hollie Wride, Emma Alexandre and the goal of the tournament from Kally Ambler, a volley which hit the underside of the bar and went in, secured the win.

They rounded off their campaign with a 5-3 win over Brighton, Georgia Selby scoring the crucial goal.

Winning the tournament means Chichester will now play in the national final against the winners of the other regional tournaments.

Pompey finished second but the plaudits went to Chichester, who would certainly not have started the competition as favourites.

On grass, they will play in the South West Combination League next season and are managed by Matt Wright.

They are a level below the Premier League southern division, where Pompey have been effectively relegated to for next season.

Greenfield said: “Other people might be surprised by what we have done but we have very good players. They worked really hard and really wanted to win it.

“On grass we play in a league a level below the other teams but our side worked really hard and really wanted to win it.

“We’re a very young team and I think we can kick on now.

“I certainly feel playing beach soccer is a great benefit to the girls when they’re back on the grass come August, especially in terms of their fitness levels.

“As a team, we have been training on the sand for about a month and I think that really showed. The support we’ve had from the club has been great.

“Playing against Portsmouth and Brighton was always going to be tough but having joined the club this season I knew the skills I’ve seen on the grass would transfer perfectly to the sand.

“This was a good opportunity for the girls to show their ability with David Jones, head of England beach soccer, Perry Northeast, ladies’ national team head coach and me watching on. These girls will definitely be in our plans when putting future England squads together.”