Chichester City Ladies hit six in the Sussex Cup
A frosty afternoon in East Sussex saw Chichester City run out as 6-0 winners over Bexhill United in the county cup.
City saw off the challenge of the South East Counties League team as Tash Stephens, Gemma White, Laura Ingram, Gemma Simmonds, Becca Bell and Helen Ogle found the target.
Following the disappointment of the SSE Women’s FA Cup exit to Crawley Wasps, Chi went into the Sussex Challenge Cup quarter-final with nine changes made to the starting line-up – only Lauren Dolbear and Lauren Cheshire kept their places.
Boss Aaron Smith promoted four players from the development squad; Amber Howden (making her debut) and Gemma White were rewarded with starts while Jess Burke and the returning Gracie White were on the bench.
Chi started strongly and the difference in the levels the teams play at did show, although Bexhill came at the National League side early on.
The home side played some neat football but couldn’t test Dolbear as Chi soon settled on the ball on the artificial surface.
Returning from injury, Ogle was lively on the ball, linking well with fellow attacker Stephens. They carved out an opportunity for Sara Tubby on the volley but it was well held by the goalkeeper.
The deadlock was broken through Stephens, a lovely strike dipping under the bar as she turned on the edge of the box. Simmonds provided the assist from midfield.
A couple of minutes later Chi had a great chance to double the lead when Stephens was fouled in the area. Up stepped Ogle to take the penalty but her effort grazed the post.
Chi dominated play with quick one-touch football that kept them in the Bexhill half for much of the game but had few shots at goal, though young Gemma White dragged a shot wide.
The chances did start to come. Stephens had a low shot saved by the keeper and Ogle sent a header from a corner towards goal.
With more than 30 minutes played, a second goal arrived and the scorer was 16-year-old Gemma White.
From a Bexhill goal-kick, Barron challenged for the ball to set up White, who put her foot straight through the ball and into the roof of the net from 30 yards out.
The shots kept coming: Simmonds was denied low down by the keeper while debutant Howden drove out from defence to shoot at goal.
In the second half, Chi didn’t take their foot off the gas as Cherelle Khassal raced through within the first minute looking for goal but the keeper stopped her lobbed shot.
With Bell and Khassal on, the visitors looked to use their pace to attack. Cheshire and Bell worked the defence hard before Bell lofted a ball into the box, where Stephens headed wide.
Khassal had few efforts which were all well dealt with by the keeper and Bexhill made two goal-line clearances.
Eventually the Chi pressure paid off. Simmonds delivered a perfect corner ball for Ingram, who lost her defender to head in the third goal.
Soon, Khassal controlled before passing to Tubby who flicked the ball over for Ogle to slot home despite the pressure from a defender.
Three minutes later Simmonds went from assisting to scoring as Tubby teed up the midfielder to fire home her first goal of the season from 20 yards.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Bell made it six. Lauren Clark’s powerful shot across goal from just inside the box was excellently parried by the keeper but it fell directly to Bell to rush in for an easy tap-in.
A convincing win for Chi puts them into the semi-final of the Sussex County Cup where they face a rematch with FA Cup conquerors Crawley Wasps, who they will visit on Sunday, January 20.
Next up for Chi after their Christmas break is a rearranged League Cup match at home to Coventry United on Sunday, January 13.
Chi City Ladies: Dolbear, Cheshire, Howden, Gemma White, Capel-Watson, Ingram, Stephens, Barron, Simmonds, Tubby, Ogle. Subs: L Clark, Khassal, Burke, Gracie White, Bell.