Chichester Ladies made it two 4-0 wins out of two with comfortable victories against Basingstoke and Cheltenham to leave them needing just a couple more wins to wrap up a deserved FA Women’s south west one title with room to spare.
Last Thursday evening Basingstoke visited Oaklands to face the leaders but an assured performance was more than enough for the green army to reclaim a ten-point lead at the top.
Kally Ambler opened the scoring after 14 minutes with a venomous finish with her right boot from a tight angle having been put clear by Charley Wilson-Blakely.
Chichester continued to press and after a quiet period they doubled their lead through Wilson-Blakely on the half-hour.
Minutes later a third goal arrived and Wilson-Blakely was the beneficiary again thanks to a lovely cross from Lauren Cheshire.
The diminutive figure of Cherelle Khassal came off the bench just after the hour to add more zip to the attacking options. It took her only a minute to make a statement as Khassall burst through a static defence, latching on to an exquisite through-ball from Jess Lewry and firing into the roof of the net.
Sunday brought a trip to Cheltenham, where Chichester welcomed back Jenna Fowlie following a long absence to have a baby and she was on the bench alongside Carmen Kager and Laura Ingram.
The visitors started with a back three of Cheshire, Lucie Challen and Emma Alexandre.
It was a slow start from both sides and the visiting support looked nervous on the sidelines knowing how important this game was.
Cheltenham set their stall out to frustrate the leaders and when the green army did get into the final third their quality seemed to vanish and they were guilty at times of trying too hard to score.
Ambler had two excellent chances to break the stalemate when put through. First the Chichester striker took too long to get an effort away and put her shot wide to the relief of keeper Rebecca Panniers.
Later Ambler had another golden chance but saw her effort beat Panniers only to come crashing back off the bar and she ballooned the rebound back over the woodwork.
Chichester left the field at half-time frustrated at their lack of goals and hearing that fellow title chasers Plymouth were comfortably ahead against Brislington.
An inspired moment from manager Liam Greenfield eventually did the trick for the visitors. Just after the hour Laura Ingram came off the bench to replace Chloe Dowdell and slotted into a revised back four – and this seemed to recharge the team.
In the 70th minute, with Chichester dominating, the deadlock was broken by the on-song Khassall. A quick one-two on the edge of the box with Becky Barron put Khassall clear and she fired home a rocket to send the visiting support wild.
Within minutes the resurgent leaders doubled their advantage through Wilson-Blakely. This time, Jess Lewry broke down the right and cut the ball back to her fellow striker who had time to pick her spot and find the far bottom corner with Panniers well beaten.
Lewry was next to get on the scoresheet when her speculative effort from long distance took a nasty bobble in front of Panniers and looped over the stranded keeper and in.
Then, to complete a four-goal burst in nine minutes, Lewry was in the right place to head home a delicious cross from Cheshire to round off an excellent second half performance.
Kager and Fowlie came on late to replace tiring legs and the points were in the bag.
Some say that the sign of a great team is the ability not only to win games well but to have the ability to win ugl,y which was just what Chichester did here.
They head for Exeter next with just two wins needed to wrap up the championship.
CCLFC: Sadie Wilson-Blakely, Charley Wilson-Blakely, Lucie Challen, Lauren Cheshire, Becky Barron, Jess Lewry, Lou Lou Robson, Kally Ambler, Chloe Dowdell, Emma Alexandre, Cherelle Khassall. Subs: Carmen Kager, Laura Ingram and Jenna Fowlie.
* Chi’s development squad’s final game of the season is on Sunday at Oaklands Park versus Abbey Rangers, which will be their manager Richard Semark’s last game after 43 years in football.
City’s under-16s won their double header with Rustington Raiders (7-1) and (3-0). Goals were scored by Alex Collighan (5), Alice Walford (3), Libby Heath and Laura Irvine.
Player of the match was Tahlia Juggins, her award presented by youth secretary Elle Henry-Evans.
* Chichester City Ladies FC and Chichester College have joined forces to launch a new female football academy.
It will look to bring the level of female football provision at the college in line with the outstanding education the students already receive.
They will hold trials at the college on Wednesday, May 10, starting from 4pm.
Chichester City Ladies are one of the fastest growing and most successful female football systems in the south and has previously worked in partnership with Chichester College in leading community coaching projects.
These initiatives have enabled the club to form several girls’ teams, which are coached by college students and play at the college site in the Sussex leagues.
The most senior of these youth sides will form the platform for the new academy.
Matt Wright, sports lecturer at Chichester College and chairman of Chichester City Ladies, said: “We are making the college a hub for female football. It’s fantastic to see our students inspiring girls in the local area through football.
“The academy will be the final piece of the jigsaw that will provide the girls with a route to outstanding education and football.”
Players who join the academy are not restricted to the courses they can study at the college, with a huge range available including A-levels, BTECs and diplomas in a variety of subjects.
They will also receive technical and tactical training sessions, regular fixtures, a personal trainer, sports therapy, access to American scholarships, the potential of England trials, strength and conditioning sessions and a full nutritional plan.
Wright added: “One of the aims of the academy is to produce players of high enough quality to represent Chichester City Ladies senior side, which plays in the FA Women’s Premier League.”
This will be supported through quality coaching by Emma Alexandre, who plays for the club’s first team and represents England in beach soccer.
Wright said: “Emma is one of the best coaches I have ever worked alongside and I am delighted she will be part of the Academy programme.”
Alexandre added: “Through my coaching degree at Chichester University and my playing experience I will help these girls progress to the next level with their football. Players that come to the academy will be in an extremely supportive environment – there will be no better place for them to develop as a footballer.”
If you are interested in attending the academy trials, and will be aged 16 or over in September 2017, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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