Ladies 4 days ago

Ladies: Chichester FAWNL Plate Quarter-Final Preview

After the fixture was delayed three times due to bad weather, the Golden Girls are hoping Sunday will be the day they can finally get back to action in the FA WNL Plate with their quarter-final tie at Chichester City.

Victories over Kent Football United and Oxford United have seen the Hornets reach this stage, and they will now be looking to join Middlesbrough in the semi-final.

Looking to prevent that scenario is a Chichester side which has had a tough time in the league this season. They have enjoyed some good results in this competition so far though and Watford will be well aware of their threats, having been made to battle for the three points in the league fixture.


Views from the Head Coach

For the first time since September, the Golden Girls are going into a game on the back of a defeat in the previous fixture.

“We look back on the Sunderland game with frustration and disappointment,” Clinton Lancaster told watfordfc.com. “We have moved on from that game now and intend on getting back to winning ways this weekend.

“We want to win this trophy, it’s as simple as that. I will be picking a squad this weekend that will be expected to go out there and get us into the semi-final.”

With his team having to deal with several fixture rearrangements this month, Lancaster insists his attention at the moment is firmly on this weekend.

“The cup games will help us get ready for those league fixtures,” he said. “They are an opportunity for players to step up and put in a good performance, which could see them selected for the upcoming games.

“I am honestly not looking beyond Chichester at the moment. I am aware of our schedule, but all I want to do is get the result this Sunday.”

To get the desired victory, the Head Coach will know his side can’t afford to let standards slip. Watford were victorious in the league fixture back in November, but only by a one-goal margin.

“They are a good side with some good players within their squad,” Lancaster explained. “They aren’t in a position to win the league, so winning this competition will be big for their players and staff.

“We have to expect a tough test and we are not taking them for granted. It was difficult last time and I expect the same again on Sunday.”


Flashback

Chichester 2-3 Watford (November 3, 2019)

The two teams faced each other in the league only a few months ago. While Watford secured the three points, they had to dig deep in order to do so.

Katie O’Leary got the Golden Girls off to the perfect start, opening the scoring after just three minutes with a first-time effort.

The form book suggested this would be a comfortable win for the away side, but Chichester had other ideas and Megan Fox got her team back on level terms just a minute after falling behind.

Watford were denied a couple of times by Isobelle Foster in the Chichester goal, and then down the other end, the hosts struck. It was a fine goal to take the lead, as Gemma Simmonds’ chip made it 2-1 to Chichester.

Looking for an immediate response, Watford looked to have found it after Helen Ward had rounded the keeper, but some superb defending from Nicky Lake prevented a goal.

When another chance presented itself, the captain wouldn’t be denied. She pounced on a poor back pass and slotted it past the keeper to ensure the game was all square at the interval.

The Hornets stepped it up in the second half, looking for a crucial third goal. Hattie Kettle had an effort disallowed, while O’Leary hit the crossbar.

Eventually the pressure told, and Watford found a way through. It was O’Leary on the scoresheet again, as she netted her second of the afternoon with a curled strike into the top right corner.

Despite not being able to add to the tally, Clinton Lancaster’s side looked assured in the final stages and closed the game out in professional fashion.

GOLDEN GIRLS |  Wilson, Hill, Kettle (Beckett, 57), Huggins, Rolandsen, Scanlon (Stojko-Down, 61), Chandler, Vyse, Ward (C), O’Leary, Carid (Fatuga-Dada, 68)

Goals | O’Leary (3, 72), Ward (39)


Hosts

Chichester are now in their third season at this level, having won promotion from the South West Division back in 2016/17. It was a case of consolidation in their first season, as they finished in eighth place. They then pushed on the following campaign, challenging towards the top for the majority of it, eventually finishing third.

There were several changes at Chichester in the summer as they prepared for 2019/20. Sadie Blakely was announced as the new manager, replacing the departing Aaron Smith.

It wouldn’t be an easy task for Blakely. The majority of the players that featured regularly in the previous season departed, meaning she had to put a new side together.

The opening six games of 2019/20 would prove to be difficult, as they struggled at both ends of the pitch. The Lillywhites lost their opening five league fixtures, while also losing in the FA WNL Cup Determining Round to lower division opposition.

Next up was a trip to Gillingham and while they stopped the rot, it could have been even better. Megan Fox’s strike looked to have given them the win, but a goal late in second half stoppage time prevented Chichester from getting all three points.

The first victory did eventually arrive. It was in the FA WNL Plate, as they defeated Swindon Town 4-2 after extra-time. That was then followed up in the Last 16 with a win over Cheltenham Town.

Despite the success in this competition, they’ve struggled in the league in recent months. After 12 games, they’re currently bottom with a 0-2-10 record. The second point coming in a 0-0 draw with Hounslow.

If Chichester want to reach the next round of the Plate, they’ll have to do what they haven’t so far this season, and that’s beat a side from the Southern Division.


Last time out

Sunderland 2-0 Watford

GOLDEN GIRLS |  Wiggins, Hill, Beckett, Huggins, Fatuga-Dada, Chandler (Kikomeko, 72), Stojko-Down, Rolandsen, Ward (C), O’Leary (Vyse, 66), Carid (Richards, 85)

Chichester 4-0 Lewes Development

CHICHESTER | Rowlands, Capel-Watson, Phelps, Burke, Laczkovski, Fox (C), White, Bell, Simmonds, Wild (Cook, 65), Martins (Staple, 76)

Goals | Simmonds (28), Wild (40), Martins (49), Bell (89)


Information

Chichester City Ladies v Watford FC
FA WNL Plate Quarter-Final
Sunday February 23, 5.15pm
Front Lawn Recreation Hub
PO9 5AN

First Team 5 days ago

Pearson: “We Should Look Forward To These Games”

By Kevin Affleck

Nigel Pearson is excited about the challenge of the next two games, believing fixtures with the two most successful sides in the English game are the ones that get the juices flowing.

The Hornets are away at Old Trafford on Sunday before facing Liverpool at home the following Saturday, and the Head Coach wants his staff and his players to rise to the occasion.

“They are very difficult on the face of it, but they are great fixtures for us,” he said. “Every player should look forward to playing in these games and every coach should look forward to being involved in them. It's about going out there and getting a performance as close to maximum as possible because that's what we need to do.”

Pearson would become only the fourth English coach in Premier League history to complete the league double over Manchester United in a season, following on from Glenn Hoddle, Alan Curbishley and Garry Monk, but you can forget about trying to get him excited by that prospect.

“Those type of facts and statistics, do they motivate me? Not particularly if I'm honest,” he said. “What motivates me is trying to help the football club to get ourselves out of the situation we are in. We need to win games to do that. It will be great to do it (win at Old Trafford) but it's not a driver for me (to become the fourth English coach to complete the season double). We are realistic about the situation we are in. We are aware we need to get back to winning ways. Winning games is what is important. It's really as simple as that. We will go there trying to win it.”

The Hornets have never won a league game at Old Trafford, last picking up a point in 1985, but they have been getting much closer in the past few seasons.

“I don't spend too much time looking at things that have already been and gone,” said Pearson. “We know we've beaten them this season, which is good. Whether that has any bearing on the game that's coming up, we'll see. Firstly, it's about us being able to produce a level of performance that is good enough for us to cause them problems. We've got individuals in our squad who are very, very capable in an offensive manner. But, as always, the collective is the most important thing. Every time a team plays a game it has a chance. It is difficult to always evaluate how realistic the chance is, but we need to win games, so what I want is a committed performance where we show every intent to win the game. We've got to take care of ourselves first.”

United have played twice since the Hornets last did at the Amex Stadium and that has given Pearson and his team the chance to do some deeper analysis on the Red Devils and recharge the batteries of his players.

“They've played games, made changes and we know that we've got to be at our best,” said Pearson. “We beat them at our place with a decent performance. We had moments where things did go our way...but when you play against the big sides, the really big sides, we know our organisation, our collective mentality, has to be very, very visible, like it is in any game. It is about looking at us and what we can affect, which is us. Individuals need to be able to bring moments of quality to the game.”

Leicester had 19 points under Pearson after 29 games in 2014/15 and racked up 22 from the last eight games to finish 14th. Pearson is regularly asked to draw a parallel between that situation and the one he inherited here, but he's not about to compare apples with oranges.

“Every situation I've been in as a player, as a manager and as a Head Coach, the circumstances are different,” he said. “It's difficult to compare one against another. The Leicester season, in 14/15, was an incredible turnaround, but that side had been built over a number of years and there was an identity which was very real within the club. One of the big factors is recognising that things are different. I'm not a believer in that what has worked somewhere else will do somewhere else. If you work like that you've got no chance. Adapting to what is required and understanding what is going on at another club and trying to keep focussed is what's really important – and concentrating on getting our preparation right for every game. The Premier League is such a huge brand and it's easy to get sidetracked. I've got to try and remain focused and realistic.”


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