On top again! Chi City Ladies see off Gillingham to return to summit

Cherelle Khassal celebrates the opener / Picture by Sheena Booker
Cherelle Khassal celebrates the opener / Picture by Sheena Booker

Cherelle Khassal and Molly Clark scored to record Chichester City’s eighth league win of the season - a 2-0 home success over Gillingham - and lift them top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier.

A loose ball in the Gillingham defence was pounced on by Khassal who neatly finished into the bottom corner. Clark made it two straight after the break, slotting home on the turn from a Hollie Wride cross.

Aaron Smith made three changes to the side who beat Cardiff City; Becca Bell, Sharna Capel-Watson and Helen Ogle starting; while Nadine Bazan, Gemma Simmonds and Tash Stephens made the bench.

Chi controlled the game from kick-off although were sluggish in places. Khassal did have an early go at goal with a flicked header, but Gillingham survived. Bell was quick down the wing and looked dangerous when running at the defence, especially when trying meet crosses into the box.

Clark and Wride got all over the pitch and it was the former who went close in the 20th minute from a free-kick but it was straight at the goalkeeper. Minutes later Khassal put the ball narrowly wide from Bell’s great ball.

Gillingham tried to carve out chances but Capel-Watson and Taylor swept the ball away before they could get a shot in. Khassal was getting in all the right places but couldn’t convert... until just past the half-hour.

Molly Clark, centre, gets the plaudits after making it 2-0 / Picture by Sheena Booker

Molly Clark, centre, gets the plaudits after making it 2-0 / Picture by Sheena Booker

Chichester broke the deadlock in the 31st minute as the Irish striker picked up the loose ball in the Gillingham defence to go one-on-one with the keeper and poke it across goal into the bottom corner.

As the game headed towards half-time there were a couple of half-chances for Gillingham but Sharna Giordani had a shot blocked and Alice Bussey couldn’t control in front of goal.

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Lauren Clark was brought on at half-time for Bell and Chi continued their pressure from the restart - and were rewarded two minutes in. The ball was crossed into the box by Wride and it fell to Molly Clark. The midfielder lost her footing but did not give up on the ball as she completed a full turn before finding the gap for her eighth goal of the season – making her joint top scorer in the league.

The midfield duo of Wride and Molly Clark were causing all sorts of issues for the visitors. Gillingham’s keeper failed to collect Wride’s free-kick but then claimed a headed effort by Clark. Moments later Wride smashed one against the crossbar from a 25-yard free-kick as Chi looked to put the game to bed.

Ogle saw her header go wide before Wride couldn’t get enough curl on a low shot. Chichester controlled the game, with the midfield playing lovely linking football, and didn’t look likely to concede.

Grace Seely looked the biggest threat for the away side with quick bursts of pace, but she couldn’t make it count. This was a controlled and comfortable victory for Chichester and they went top as Coventry United did not have a fixture.

* Chi host bottom side C&K Basildon at the Countrywide Gas Stadium on Sunday, November 11.

Chi City Ladies: Lauren Dolbear, Lauren Cheshire, Tiffany Taylor, Sharna Capel-Watson, Tammy Waine (Laura Ingram 56’), Hollie Wride, Helen Ogle (Tash Stephens 72’), Cherelle Khassal, Rebecca Barron, Molly Clark, Rebecca Bell (Lauren Clark 46’). Unused subs: Nadine Bazan, Gemma Simmonds.