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Chichester City 0 Coventry Utd 2
Coventry United progressed in the FA National League Cup with an excellent 2-0 away win over league rivals Chichester City.
This Third Round tie between the top two in the Southern Division was controlled virtually from start to finish by the Midlanders, strong in defence and lively in attack.
Chichester worked hard but were never given time on the ball and were grateful for a fine performance from Lauren Dolbear in goal and brave defensive work from the back three to keep them in the game.
Beth Merrick brought the first save from Dolbear in the 10th minute, clearing the ball for a corner after a 25-yard effort had struck the bar. The Chi keeper also did really to tip over a stinging Amber Hughes shot at full stretch on 15 minutes and then recovered to save from Amy Wathan after a poor clearance on 17 minutes.
Tammy Waine created the first Chichester chance with a header from a corner but Chenise Austin was well placed to clear off the line. The experienced Chi defender was also busy at the other end of the pitch, showing a cool touch to clear after another shot had cannoned off the bar on 32 minutes.
It was Natasha Merritt who gave United the advantage they deserved on 36 minutes with a powerful header from a corner on the right.
Hughes doubled the visitors' lead on 52 minutes, cutting in from the right wing to drive home a powerful shot from ten yards. The home side tried to rally but were unable to break down a strong defence to threaten Sue Wood's goal.
Indeed, Merritt nearly added a third with another header from a corner and Dolbear produced another fine save to deny Hughes with Laura Ingram clearing the rebound.
The dynamic of the tie was changed somewhat when Merritt was dismissed for a second bookable offence with 20 minutes left. With substitutes Jade Widdows and Tash Stephens adding some attacking threat, Coventry were forced to defend more than before, which they did with skill and strength.
Molly Clark forced a good save from Wood on 89 minutes, tipping over a 35-yard lob but that was close as Chi came to reducing the deficit.
For Coventry United it was an impressive response to the FA Cup exit at the hands of Crawley Wasps, whilst Chichester City can now continue their attempt to secure League glory in their best ever season, in direct competition with today's opponents.
Lauren Dolbear, Lauren Cheshire, Sara Tubby, Tiff Taylor, Laura Ingram, Molly Clark, Cherelle Khassal, Becky Barron, Helen Ogle, Tammy Waine, Gemma Simmonds. Subs: Jade Widdows, Jess Lewry, Natasha Stephens, Sharna Capel-Watson, Lauren Clark.
Sue Wood, Shannon O'Brien, Natasha Merritt, Jade Brook, Chenise Austin, Natalie Haigh, Nikki Miles, Beth Merrick, Maz Gauntlett, Amy Wathan, Amber Hughes. Subs: Helen Dermody, Lois Jefferies, Erin Riden, Jenna Roberts.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Lauren Dolbear saves with Shannon O'Brien and Tiff Taylor closing in
(middle) Jade Brook holds off Becky Barron
(bottom) Beth Merrick takes on Helen Ogle
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