Ladies football getting stronger ... Chichester’s FA Cup run goes on

A pre-match huddle sets up Chichester ladies for FA Cup success at Enfield  Picture by Mike Bunyan
A pre-match huddle sets up Chichester ladies for FA Cup success at Enfield Picture by Mike Bunyan

CHICHESTER’s development centre for female footballers is going from strength to strength.

On Saturday mornings, many Chichester City Ladies players coach girls aged between five and 13 to develop their skills and knowledge of football and help them become better players. The sessions also help promote female football in the local area.

All the coaches are past or present Chichester College students and play for a team in the Chichester set-up.

Players aged five to eight have more fun-based sessions to keep them playing football and having fun. As the players get older and progress into the under-11 and then under-13 teams, they will have more structured training sessions to help them develop.

Coaches manage two teams playing in competitive leagues - under-11s and under-13s. On average, every Saturday is seeing more than 30 players - a huge success since they started the sessions more than two years ago.

The club plan to increase the number of teams in leagues each year as they take on more players - next year, under-14, under-12, under-11 and possibly an under-ten team are planned.

The longer-term aim is for the girls to progress into Chichester’s successful ladies’teams.

To help ensure growth and maintain the roots of the club, they have hosted many female-only football festivals for primary schools in the area.

Some have involved as many as 90 players and coaches have staged skills sessions, fun games and mini tournaments to give the players a taste of what they do on Saturday mornings.

They have now started hosting football festivals in secondary schools.

Because of the high demand of players wanting to participate in football after the festivals, the centre have now created ‘just play’ sessions which are hosted at Chichester College each Thursday from 5pm to 6pm for female players aged 14 to 25.

Sessions are free and run by volunteers.

Anyone intersted in finding out more about the initiatives should call Matt Wright on 07534 996578.

Enfield 0 Chichester City Ladies 6

Chichester won at a canter in their Women’s FA Cup second-round game.

They now face Women’s Super League two side Durham Women this Sunday in the third round - it’s a 700-mile round trip for a 1pm kick-off.

Chichester’s last outing was on December 15 and this was the fourth attempt to get this game on.

Early on, it was evident Chichester had not played for weeks as they struggled to find a rhythm. But they soon began to get into their stride.

An Enfield 35-yard free-kick was easily caught by McNamara before a long-range effort sailed over the bar.

Chichester knew they must start taking control and the midfield duo of Willett and Widdowson were playing some excellent passes.

Great work out wide allowed Kally Ambler to open the scoring with a fantastic first-time finish.

It wasn’t long before Cheshire got herself on the scoresheet. Another cross from Fowlie found her unmarked at the back post and she unleashed a stunning first-time volley into the roof of the net.

The home side showed renewed vigour in the opening stages of the second half but with McGlashan and Alexandre in fine form they were unable find their forwards in space.

A mistake from the Enfield keeper allowed Chichester to grab their third as a cross from the left slipped through her hands, leaving Ambler with the simplest of finishes.

The home goalkeeper made amends when she saved brilliantly to deny Cheshire a second from close range.

Enfield were restricted to long-range efforts but while the green army were looking to put the tie to bed, great work from the home keeper was keeping them at bay.

Shrubb took a corner and looked to have scored directly, although Kirtsy Willett was adamant she got a fleeting head to it.

Chichester’s fifth came through a superb team move finished off by Hollie Wride. The move was started by impressive debutant Jodie Greenway, who played an inch-perfect through-ball to Shrubb, who squared to Wride for a one-two with Cheshire and applied the finish.

Wride completed the scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the area into the top corner.

This was a fantastic result against opposition who play in an equivalent league to City.

* Chichester ladies’ reserves played a friendly against Brighton reserves. They lost 3-0 but gave a fantastic account of themselves.