This was a rematch of last year’s final which saw Aaron Smith’s Chichester City side winning 2-1 against Chichester City. Since then Wasps have gone from strength to strength and currently sit top of the National League South, six points above Watford. After competing for the league title last season, new boss Sadie Blakely’s youthful side have had a hard time of it at the bottom of the league, a position which doesn’t give a true reflection of their ability.
I arrived at a very cold Lancing Football Club and managed to bag the last parking space at the ground.
The early stages went with form as Crawley looked like they were going to dominate possession and territory without creating many meaningful chances. Chichester look dangerous on the left flank through Sharna Chapel-Watson and Rebecca Bell.
Priscilla Martin was the focal point of the Chichester’s forward line and worked hard but struggled to retain the ball, with the likes of Ellie Russell being able to steal it and build attacks.
First blood went to Crawley when Russell headed in unmarked from a Naomi Cole cross moments after her inital corner was cleared.
The holders didn’t panic, they continued to stay patient and organised, not allowing Crawley the space and time on the ball which they have been used to this season.
As both sides went off for half time I think that they would both be happy with how the first half had gone although the next goal would be vital for Chichester if they had any dreams of taking their trophy home.
Tash Wild had been impressing me in the first half, she anticipated well and picked up good positions going forward. In the 49th minute, Chichester captain Megan Fox hit a trademark shot from distance which was parried by Frankie Gibbs in the Crawley goal, Rebecca Bell was the quickest to react and manage to bundle the ball over to make it 1-1. From here Chichester were visibly lifted and started to believe that they could get something out of the game.
Paul Walker introduced Emma Plewa on the left-hand side but she and her teammates struggled to find the space in behind Chichester and attack, after attack was repelled by Amber Howden, Capel-Watson and co.
On the hour mark, Frankie Gibbs was forced to make a superb save to prevent Fox who nearly put her side ahead spectacularly.
As we entered the final minutes of the second half Chichester retreated back and allowed Crawley to have the ball deep into their half. Just when it looked like we were destined for extra time, Kemina Webber held off the defender but her shot hit the side netting, leading the Chichester bench to breath a huge sigh of relief.
In extra time Crawley had more of the ball and territory but failed to really test Issy Foster in the Chichester goal, so we went to penalties.
Priscilla Martin held her nerve and put her side 1-0 up. Crawley goalscorer Ellie Russell came next but sent the ball well wide of the goal much to her frustration. As we entered the fifth round of spot-kicks with the score 3-2 to Crawley and it was down to both captains. Megan Fox emphatically put her penalty away but Naomi Cole did the same and handed her side their Sussex County Cup, avenging last season’s defeat.
This result was cruel on Chichester who were brilliant on the day and can be so proud of how they performed! Sadie Blakely will be hoping that her side can match this performance towards the end of the season and put pressure on Hounslow and Keynsham Town who are immediately above them.