A 2-1 win in their first game of 2019 against Plymouth Argyle saw Chi City Ladies return to the summit of the FA Women’s National League southern division thanks to a Helen Ogle double.
Plymouth struck first against the run of play when Rebecca Danbridge scored but Chi equalised before the break as Ogle sidefooted in a low cross. Ogle’s 30-yard free-kick dipped just under the crossbar for the winner.
Aaron Smith fielded a strong team with top goalscorers Molly Clark and Cherelle Khassal starting while there was the return to the first team for Ogle.
Chi controlled from the off and had early opportunities to take the lead. Khassal linked up with Simmonds and the Irish international burst through on goal and took the ball round keeper Lynsey Rogers before a defender blocked the shot.
Within minutes Khassal was played through one-on-one with Rogers. She attempted to chip the keeper but the shot was saved.
Molly Clark tested Rogers with a free-kick that was palmed away from the top corner.
The visitors converted with their first chance. Pilgrims’ new signing Leah Buridge’s ball was picked out by Amber Pollock and she pulled it back to the waiting Danbridge, who slotted in.
Argyle had two attempts to double their lead. Helen Bleazard smashed the ball against the bar as she beat Lauren Dolbear while Danbridge was off-target with her rebounded effort.
Zoe Cunningham was denied by Lauren Cheshire and ten minutes before the break Chi were level.
Breaking down the right, Khassal drove past the full-back and sent a low cross perfectly for Ogle to sidefoot in. Ogle and Sara Tubby had a few half-chances before half-time.
Chi started the second half strongly in search of a second, but Khassal was caught offside before she put too much power on a ball into the box for Tubby.
Khassal broke into the Plymouth area but her shot was blocked before Sharna Capel-Watson’s delivery found the keeper.
Cheshire fended off Cunningham to cross for Khassal but her shot was saved by Rogers ,while Helen Bleazard was stopped in her tracks by a strong tackle by Tiffany Taylor.
Ogle went close to doubling her tally in the 65th minute as she hit the bar with Rogers well off her line.
Chi were awarded a free-kick ten yards outside the area which Ogle claimed with no Hollie Wride or Molly Clark on the pitch. Her effort soared over the mass of bodies on the edge of the area and dipped under the bar to put Chi in front.
The game’s intensity grew and Arygle had a couple of free-kicks in a row which Chi dealt with.
Tammy Waine swept the ball away from the feet of the visitors’ top scorer, Bleazard, as the game entered the final ten minutes of normal time.
Jade Widdows came on for Khassal and looked lively from but neither she nor fellow sub Tash Stephens couldn’t break down an organised Argyle backline.
In nine minutes of injury time because of treatment needed by Molly Clark and Dolbear, Chi held off any Plymouth pressure.
City’s first double puts them back to the top of the southern premier, although Coventry United have two games in hand.
Chichester City Ladies host Coventry United in the FA Women’s National League Cup third round at Oaklands Park this Sunday.
Chi City Ladies: Dolbear, Cheshire, Waine, TTaylor, Capel-Watson, M Clark (L Clark), Barron, Simmonds, Tubby (Stephens), Ogle, Khassal (Widdows). Unused sub: Ingram.