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.”
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)
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)
Chichester City Ladies v Watford FC
FA WNL Plate Quarter-Final
Sunday February 23, 5.15pm
Front Lawn Recreation Hub