Chichester (H) 18/19
The unbeaten league campaign came to an end for Coventry United Ladies on Sunday, with a 3-2 defeat at home to title rivals Chichester City at Communications Park.
The Red and Green Girls had won all bar one of their FAWNL Southern Premier Division fixtures in the 2018/19 season, with only a draw at Gillingham preventing a maximum haul of points. Jay Bradford’s side had not been beaten in a league fixture since a 2-1 turnover at home to Crystal Palace Ladies in May 2018, but the run was ended thanks to the set piece brilliance of Lillywhites attacker, Molly Clark. Jay made one change to the starting 11 from the 3-0 victory at Watford, with Beth Merrick replacing Helen Dermody at wing-back.
Just 8 minutes would elapse before Coventry took the lead. Amber Hughes’ corner headed towards the net by Nikki Miles, and as Chichester defender Tiff Taylor tried to prevent the goal, she could old flick the ball beyond her own goalkeeper. The lead would last for 25 minutes, as Molly Clark claimed her first of the afternoon. The away number 10’s initial free kick was blocked by Lois Jefferies in a one woman wall. The ball rebounded back to Clark, whose second attempt off the half volley flew through the crowded penalty area and past Sue Wood in the United goal. Clark would complete the turnaround with another free kick, this time a direct attempt two minutes before half time, after a short break to substitute the injured Maz Gauntlett. Clakre’s powerful drive over the wall left Wood, as Chichester went into half time ahead 2-1.
Coventry would have to fight back in the second half, but their task was made even tougher by, you guessed it, a Molly Clark freekick. This time, Clark turned provider as she lobbed it into the box onto the boot of Kim Stenning, who turned the ball home at the far post. United would go on to dominate possession for the remainder of the match, as they attempted to find a route back into the game. Quick thinking from Amy Wathan gave United hope, as she spotted keeper Lauren Dolbear off her line with a first time half volley from 25 yards, with 20 minutes to play. Chichester turned their attention solely to defence, as they sought to preserve their now fragile lead. And Coventry would come within inches of an equaliser on two occasions. First, a Beth Merrick free kick would bounce off the top of the crossbar. And in the closing minutes, Miles was denied a second as her attempt was cleared from the line. Chichester held on for a huge win, as Coventry’s lead in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division table was cut to 3 points.