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Chatham Town Women 0-2 Cardiff City Ladies
Chatham Town Women 0-2 Cardiff City Ladies

Chats came into the game knowing it was a must win game, coach Keith Boanas commenting to KSN’s Mike Green in the week that it was a relegation 12 pointer.

Although there has been a notable improvement in performances since Boanas took the reins, a failure to register a league victory had left the Chats with only London Bees beneath them in the table, and Chats women started the day 8 points adrift of safety, with visitors Cardiff immediately above them.

Certainly to have any realistic chance of avoiding the drop three points against Cardiff was the minimum requirement, as the game was one of several fixtures upcoming  against fellow strugglers which presented at least an outside chance of maintaining their SPL status.

Chats began the game brightly, with Breon Grant making several forays down the right flank, leading to a succession of corners, which Cardiff struggled to deal with. 

On 14 minutes Grant’s jinking run saw her round the keeper, but the Cardiff defender covered with a last ditch challenge and blocked Grant’s attempt away for another corner. From the resulting flag kick a scramble ensued which saw a deflected effort bounce away to safety from the outside of the post.

The visitors progressively grew into the game and on 29 minutes took the lead following one of many controversial decisions by the referee. Chats were penalised for what seemed a fair challenge 30 yards out, and from the resulting free kick the ball fell to Jessie Taylor, who slotted neatly low into the bottom corner from penalty spot distance, giving Kara Davies in goal no chance.

The turning point of the game came right at the start of the second period. A minute into the half Chats thought they had equalised when a cross in from the right was headed home from beyond the far post, but the home side’s celebrations were quickly curtailed by the linesman’s offside flag.

Almost immediately Cardiff broke, and Chats attempted to clear the ball was struck point blank against a falling defender. To everyone’s surprise, the referee pointed to the spot, seemingly believing it to be a deliberate handball. A hugely contentious decision, which allowed Chloe Taylor  to double Cardiff’s advantage. In the aftermath Lenny Priest was sin binned for dissent as Chats players voiced their annoyance at the decision.

Understandably the sudden turnaround of events knocked the stuffing out of the Chats, and it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous, almost adding a third  on 59 minutes with a shot from the edge of the box which beat Davies but came back off the face of the bar.

Although Chats came more into the game late on, the closest they came to reducing the arrears was with 6 minutes to go, when a goalmouth scramble saw a shot blocked in the edge of the six yard box. As the game ebbed away Cardiff keeper Laura O’Sullivan dealt comfortably with  any crosses that Chats put into the box, frustrating the home side’s attempts to get back into the game.

Although you couldn’t fault the endeavour of the Chats side, once again they came up short, as has been the case for much of the season. Defeat leaves them 9 points adrift of safety, and facing the daunting prospect of a trip to leaders Portsmouth next weekend.

Chats: Davies, Coombs (Perkins 81), Priest, Jackson, Augustine (Wells 45), Hynes (Leitch 81), Taylor, Jeffkins, Grant (Espinosa 77), Turner, Sharp (Bell 45).

Subs: Leitch, Bell, Wells, Perkins, Espinosa.

Cardiff: O’Sullivan, Piggott, Poole, Lloyd, Taylor, Teisar, Caitlin Williams, Gauvain, Scahill, Long, Jones.

Subs: Asker, Richards, Cori Williams, Laura Williams, Mills.

Pictures supplied by Allen Hollands.