By Mikki Collins
Chichester City Ladies’ best performance of the seasson was not enough to clinch victory in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final against Crawley Wasps.
Chi City were the underdogs in the lead up to the final having previously lost 7-1 to Wasps at the start of the season.
But the green and white army took the FAWNL league leaders all the way to penalties before suffering the agony of a 4-3 shootout defeat.
Ellie Russell headed home a Naomi Cole cross after 24 minutes to put Wasps in front at Culver Road against the holders.
The Wasps had the better of the first half but could not keep up the momentum as Chi moved up a gear in the second half.
Wasps were not able to deal with Tash Wild’s pace in the lead up to Becca Bell’s 55th-minute equaliser.
Bell tapped home after Gemma Simmonds’s shot was parried into her path.
A stand-out performance from Issy Foster in goal kept Chichester firmly in the game as the final went into extra time with no further goals despite Wasps enjoying the majority of possession.
In a nerve-jangling shootout, Amy Martins scored to put Chi in the lead and Crawley missed the target completely with their first penalty to put the cup within touching distance for Sophie Blakely’s side.
However, Crawley’s experience shone through as they held their nerve to win 4-3 and lift the cup for the first time.
Chi chairwoman Caz Evans, who has stepped down from the role this week, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of this team right now.
“They pushed Crawley all the way and showed what they are capable of. I’m gutted for them but excited for the future of this young side.”
After an incredibly disciplined performance, first team manager Sadie Blakely said “This is credit to all CCLFC players, coaches, staff and committee. This wouldn’t have happened without these amazing people so thank you all but it’s onwards and upwards now until the end. A big fight [in the league] lies ahead.”
Starting XI: Foster, Burke, Lake, Howden, Capel-Watson, Laczkovszki, Fox (c), Simmonds, Bell, Wild, Martins