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Chichester City 3 Cardiff City Ladies 3
Chichester City and Cardiff City Ladies shared six goals in an entertaining and highly competitive FAWPL Southern Division encounter at Oaklands Park.
The home side trailed to two early strikes, turned the match in their favour before the hour, but Cardiff found an equaliser with fifteen minutes left for a result which reflected a match where both sides had periods of dominance.
Chichester's Cherelle Khassal created an early chance, outpacing the defence before firing into the side netting but it was Cardiff who impressed with fluent and dynamic interplay in attack. The visitors took an eighth minute lead through Daisy Evan-Watkins who curled a perfect shot from wide left beyond Sadie Wilson-Blakeley. Cardiff continued to look threatening and doubled the lead on 17 minutes when Cori Williams slid in at the far post to convert another well constructed attack involving Kelly Isaac and Chloe O'Connar.
Crucially, Chichester halved the deficit within two minutes. Skipper Emma Alexandre brought the ball out of defence and played a delightful through pass for Jess Lewry to run clear of the last defender and finish low in the right corner.
The action swung from end to end at a breathless pace. Lauren Cheshire's long throw released Jade Widdows for a cross which forced a miskick, well held by Cardiff keeper Estelle Randall. Wilson-Blakely was quick off her line to block Ella Powell's shot, then Randall made an equally good save to turn away Cheshire's powerful 10-yard drive.
Lewry had an equaliser ruled out for offside on the half hour before Wilson-Blakely leapt high to keep out a shot from O'Connar. Khassal broke clear of the Cardiff defence again on 35 minutes but Randall made another fine save low to her left. As the break approached, the Cardiff keeper was penalised for handling the ball outside her area and sub Hollie Wride drove home the Chichester equaliser, with a deflection wrongfooting Randall.
Chichester had done well to be level at the break and had their best period of the match either side of Wride's 58th minute penalty, awarded for a foul on Khassal. Dominating midfield, the home side were able to exert consistent pressure on the Cardiff defence without creating too many clear cut chances. Even so. the visitors were always dangerous on the break. Wilson-Blakely had to be quick off her line to deny Powell again on 67 minutes.
The Cardiff equaliser was another sweeping move at pace on the counter on 75 minutes with Williams and Zoe Atkins setting up Isaac to convert neatly from close range. Chichester responded well to this setback and pressed hard for a winner but the Cardiff defence and impressive keeper Randall stood firm to the final whistle.
A much changed Cardiff City line up from the side which has often challenged at the top of the FAWPL looked good with their neat and dynamic play at times, whilst Chichester continued to prove their resilience and ability to thrive at this level in their debut campaign.
Sadie Wilson-Blakely, Lauren Cheshire, Laura Ingram, Emma Alexandre, Tiffany Taylor, Jade Widdows, Jenna Fowlie, Cherelle Khassal, Jess Lewry, Chloe Tucker, Becky Barron. Subs: Hollie Wride, Gemma Simmonds, Gracie White, Alex Collighan, Poppy Shine.
Cardiff City Ladies:
Estelle Randall, Hannah Mills, Ffion Price, Kate Bennett, Ffion Llewellyn, Zoe Atkins, Ella Powell, Cori Williams, Chloe O'Connar, Daisy Evan-Watkins, Kelly Isaac. Sub: Shannon Greenaway.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Ella Powell is surrounded by Chichester duo Jess Lewry and Tiffany Taylor
(middle) Cori Williams slides in to score Cardiff's second goal
(bottom) Hollie Wride scores from a free kick for Chichester
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