A come-from-behind 4-2 victory at Newquay ensured Chichester City Ladies’ place at the top for the Christmas break.
Chichester had the worst possible start, conceding two goals in the first 12 minutes.
The visitors were put under pressure from the first whistle and with the strong wind and heavy rain favouring their style of play, Newquay forced a corner. As the ball was floated in the wind altered the flight of the delivery, causing Alexandre to misjudge her headed clearance and put the ball into her own net.
The second came when an attack down the left produced a low cross that provided the home side’s right winger with a simple tap-in at the far post.
Going two down seemed to spark the green army into life but Chichester couldn’t create any clear-cut chances.
It was vital the deficit was reduced by half-time and when Fowlie played a first-time ball into space, Ambler beat her defender for pace to leave her with only the keeper to beat, which she did.
The break came with Chichester in the ascendancy.
Manager Matt Wright made two changes, introducing Symonds and Cheshire and a slight change of tactics.
The weathe improved, meaning Chichester could begin to play the sort of football that has seen them unbeaten all season.
Willet and Wride were becoming more involved. With an injury to Georgina Starkey at centre-back, Wright had to throw caution to the wind and replace her with Shrubb - meaning three up front.
The change paid off almost immediately when Shrubb was put though. Her effort was saved but from the rebound the tireless Ambler challenged the goalkeeper for the loose ball and sent it crashing in.
The goal that gave City the lead was worthy of winning any game. A free-kick from 20 yards was perfectly dispatched over the wall and into the top corner by Wride. The goal sparked wild celebrations on the pitch and in the dug-out.
With 20 minutes to go, Newquay were harshley awarded a penalty. The home side’s No7 blazed the kick over the bar.
With Challen and Fowlie combining down the left, Chichester won another free-kick in an almost-identical location to the one that saw them take the lead. Wride took it and the keeper appeared to misjudge it as it looped over her and in.
The ladies move two points clear at the top with a game in hand on second-placed Swindon. The green army return to action on January 5 at Shanklin (2pm).
Chichester Res 8 Eastbourne 0
Chichester knew that a slip-up against rivals Eastbourne would make the league campaign more difficult - but there was never any danger of it happening.
The ladies started well and showed their passing abilities from the first whistle.
Amy Bailey broke down Chichester’s right, went past the Eastbourne full-back and delivered a pinpoint cross for Sian Payne to smash home after only two minutes to make it 1-0.
From the restart, Chichester won the ball back and pressured Eastbourne into a corner. From Jodie Greenway’s delivery, Natalie Clarke hit a volley which Lauren Ellis poked home to make it 2-0 with just five minutes gone.
Eastbourne tried to play forward but Chichester’s back four and keeper were communicating well and working hard for each other.
Gemma Halford and Stacy Baker played a one-two out from the back and Baker played a superb through-ball for Bailey to latch on to. She slid in front of the Eastbourne keeper to make it 3-0.
Bailey delivered an outstanding cross for Ellis to volley - the Eastbourne keeper made a fantastic save but the rebound fell to Payne, who made it 4-0.
The passing Chichester were producing was brilliant and the ladies were not stopping there. Payne returned the favour with a lovely pass into Bailey to fire over the keeper for 5-0 before half-time.
Hannah Chalk and Lucy Stanbridge down Chichester’s left were linking up well and it could have been more.
At the start of the second half, Chichester made it 6-0 when Bailey got her hat-trick after another great run and her final effort deflected past the Eastbourne keeper.
Chichester made a few substitutions but the passing was still really good.
With Greenway subbed, corner duties went to Ellis and her deliveries were a nightmare for the Eastbourne defence. After several corners in quick succession, Halford met one with a bullet header into the back of the net for 7-0.
Woman of the match Natalie Clarke in central midfield was a constant menace to Eastbourne and her work-rate and energy were too much for them.
A few more chances fell to Chichester before Jess Harnett sealed the game when she delivered a corner that went in at the near post despite the efforts of the defender to head it away and made it 8-0.
If Chichester continue to play like this they will be hard to beat - this was the perfect way for them to go into the Christmas break.
Their next game is at Milford on January 5.
CITY RES: Parfoot, Halford, Baker, Richardson, Chalk, Stanbridge, Clarke, Greenway, Bailey, Ellis, Payne, Subs: Beaven, Cottam-Verbruggen, Selby, Thorne, Harnett.