Only one goal separated Chichester City and Watford in their FA Women’s National League Southern Premier clash at Kings Langley.
Danielle Scanlon found herself in the right place at the right time a few yards out for the goal that condemned Chi to a rare defeat.
City and Watford went toe to toe for the rest of the game but no more goals followed in a physical battle that saw two players carried off.
Changes were made to the Chi team following the win against C&K Basildon as Molly Clark, Rebecca Barron, Tammy Waine, Cherelle Khassal and Lauren Cheshire returned.
Watford captain Helen Ward proved threatening early on, getting into dangerous places and sending a low cross into the box for Katie O’Leary who didn’t gamble.
It was an even game with both defences keeping attacks at bay. Lauren Peck saw out a cross from Nadine Bazan and Tiffany Taylor headed clear the Watford left-back’s cross.
With 15 minutes on the clock the hosts broke the deadlock from an Alysha Stojko-Down free-kick. The midfielder whipped the ball towards goal with Lauren Dolbear saving, and Bazan went in low to clear the ball, but her clearance struck Scanlon and bounced into the empty net.
Khassal won a free-kick for a slight clip on her heels while driving into the box. Hollie Wride took the set-piece and forced Weronika Baranowska into a fingertip save, pushing the ball over the crossbar.
Ward had the home supporters cheering again as she placed her shot into the bottom corner, but they werey hushed by the raised flag of the assistant referee.
The hosts were forced to make a sub before the break as O’Leary was carried off and replaced by Linda Afuakwah.
Jess Lewry came on at half-time for Chi as boss Aaron Smith looked for a spark in his team’s performance. Lewry was leading the line and causing trouble in the Watford area, setting up Wride for a low strike that was covered well by Baranowska.
But Lewry took a knock on the ankle as a strong tackle by Georgie Edwards saw the forward's game end after just 13 minutes and she was replaced by Jade Widdows.
There was a heart-in-the-mouth moment as Dolbear flew out of her goal to clear the ball from the feet of Ward but missed - however, the experienced Waine was quick to react and clear.
There was another forced substitution as challenges became more physical with both teams battling to win the game; Watford’s Andrea Carid replaced by Laura Baker.
On-target efforts weren’t as easy to come by for Chi as they had been the previous week. Khassal teed up Wride, whose shot went wide, and Molly Clark had her shot blocked.
Despite their lead Watford weren’t creating much but did force Dolbear into one diving low save to her right as Leanne Bell struck on the turn.
City substitute Jade Widdows had a great chance just inside the Watford box but her strike was deflected over the bar.
Chi couldn't find an equaliser in eight minutes of stoppage time.
A narrow defeat against the former Super League 2 side was Chi’s second defeat of the season in all competitions.
Chichester have a break from action on Sunday but return in December for a succession of cup games in the FA Cup, League Cup and County Cup.
The first is an all-Sussex affair away to Crawley Wasps in the SSE Women’s FA Cup Second Round on Sunday, December 2.
Chi City Ladies: Dolbear, Bazan, Taylor, Cheshire, Waine, Wride, M Clark, Barron (L Clark), Simmonds (Lewry (Widdows 53’) ), Stephens, Khassal. Unused subs: Ingram, Capel-Watson.