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A late goal from Lisa Overall gave Chelmsford City a 1-0 victory over Tigers which clinched the Division One title in the Essex County Women's League.
City were looking to secure the title knowing nothing less than a victory in their final game would mean the honours would be heading to the north of the county, if second placed Takeley beat Walden.
City went out and tried to be assertive against a side they had already defeated twice this season. However, a much improved Tigers side proved to be a tough nut to crack and the Clarets could not seem to find a way through.
Ashleigh Harding and Chloe Woolaway both went close to breaking the deadlock but found the visiting 'keeper equal to their efforts. Tigers themselves could have taken the lead when they twice broke through only to be thwarted by a good strong block from Brogan Lambert and the quick thinking of City keeper Clare Pearson.
City came out for the second half in a determined mood and played better football than they had in the first half and looked to have a good penalty shout when Woolaway tumbled in the box as she shaped to shoot. As it turned out the covering defender actually made an excellent last ditch tackle to steal the ball from the City striker's toes.
As the game wore on, it looked increasingly as though the home side were not going to find the goal they needed and just after the hour mark, disaster nearly struck when the Tigers' striker fired in a good shot from the edge of the box fortunately, Gaby Freedman managed to recover and clear the ball off the line and out for a corner.
Minutes later, City could have taken the lead when Freedman met a corner with a towering header that she sent just over the bar.
With time ticking away, City produced a much needed moment of magic to gain the breakthrough they deserved in the 85th minute. Ciara Meeking collected the ball in the centre and fed Woolaway, who raced away from her marker and bore down on goal. The visiting defender's recovered well forcing her to play the ball square to Lisa Overall whose initial shot was blocked. However, she kept her composure and reacted quickest to drill the rebound on the turn from eight yards out which flew into the back of the net to set off scenes of delight by City players and supporters.
The goal proved to be the killer blow for Tigers and City were able to see the game out and secure their second Division One title in four years.
"We found it hard today and full credit should go to the visitors who made life extremely difficult," enthused a delighted Chelmsford joint manager Simon Horne. "It looked as though we going to pay for so many missed chances in the first half, but we dug deep and got the win we needed. The girls have worked really hard this season and having dropped only six points, the title is thoroughly deserved. As a management team, we couldn't be more proud of everyone who has been involved this season."
Chelmsford City: Clare Pearson, Anna Thomas, Brogan Lambert, Gaby Freedman, Kat Clarke, Beth Morrell, Rosie Coe, Elspeth Arkell, Briony Gardner, Chloe Woolaway, Ashleigh Harding, Ciara Meeking, Alisha Bull, Lisa Overall.
(Photo by Paul S.Gardiner)
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