Ladies’ football: Chichester lose to Leicester in plate

Chichester and Leicester observe a minute's silence before the match
Chichester and Leicester observe a minute's silence before the match

After two postponements, Chichester City Ladies played their Women’s Premier League plate tie against Leicester on the all-weather pitch at South Downs College.

The afternoon began with a minute’s silence in honour of Chichester player Chantelle Strudwick’s two-month-old son Theo, who recently passed away.

Chichester looked dangerous going forward. Dowdell and Challen got in behind their full-backs several times.

The home side won several corners and caused real problems for the Leicester defenders.

Chichester created three excellent chances in open play early on. The first saw Challen drive to the by-line and deliver a ball to the back post that an unmarked Ellis sidefooted in. The linesman cut short the celebrations short by flagging that the ball had gone out of play for a goal kick.

Dowdell had time to shoot in the box but sent the ball over the bar.Then Dowdell turned provider, crossing for Barron to meet with a, whose looping header was brilliantly tipped on to the post.

Leicester didn’t get a meaningful effort on target until the 32nd minute. Chichester failed to clear their lines on the edge of the area and a Leicester player sent a looping volley towards goal and over the top of Piiroinen in goal.

It was against the run of play and seemed to inspire Leicester, but their improvement didn’t continue into the second half.

Chichester came out all guns blazing and the pressure on the Leicester goal increased with the Chichester full-backs almost becoming wingers.

McGlashan and Widdowson had little defending to do but Chichester were struggling to get players on the end of their forward moves.

Chichester won a series of corners, sending greater numbers up each time until all 11 were in Leicester’s defensive third. After several scrambles the referee blew for full-time, Chichester paying the price for being unable to capitalise on their dominance.

Brighton and Hove Albion Res 10 Chichester City Ladies Res 0

With Brighton the reigning league champions and free scoring this season, it was always going to be tough for Chichester’s development squad.

Chichester had several players out of their normal position because of injuries and movement between squads.

Brighton started brightly and put Chichester on the back foot with slick passing.

They struck early to make it 1-0. Chichester struggled to get hold of the ball and when they did they were giving the ball back to the opposition. Brighton made it 2-0 with a good header from a corner.

Jess Pike, playing her first game up front for Chichester, was positive and almost broke through the Brighton back-line after riding two challenges.

It was 3-0 after a long-range effort hit the roof of the net. Sally Thompson, playing her first game in Chichester’s goal, did well but it was 4-0 from another corner before half-time.

Substitutions saw more of Chichester’s players in unfamiliar roles but they never gave up.

Hannah Chalk had a good game on the left side of defence. Thompson again pulled off some good saves but Chichester left gaps which Brighton took advantage of.

At 6-0 another injured Chichester player had to come off.

Abbey Shrubb and Pike were linking up well up front with the final ball just missing. Shrubb had a long-range effort saved and Pike hit a long volley just wide but the game finished 10-0 to Brighton.

Chichester always knew that stepping up by the equivalent of four leagues would result in tough days like this, but they are learning.

Their next game is against Lewes reserves on Sunday, December 7.