Spot the Difference

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So close but so far as title race goes on for another week

The U’s will have to wait until at least next week to be confirmed as champions after falling at the final hurdle of double header day in Chichester. Other results around the division meant the U’s could have become champions had they managed to repeat the heroics of their 2-0 win in game 1, but they were heavily beaten 0-3 in game 2 to halt the prospective celebrations.

Game 1
The opening 10 minutes was vintage Hastings Utd.- nabbing the only goals of the match in that time frame. The opening goal came after just 4 minutes, when an Izzy Payne out swinging corner found the head of Rebecca Relf at the near post, and she glanced it in to the far corner to break the deadlock. It had been a little while since our last Payne to Relf corner goal, and so to get one so early set the marker the U’s needed.

As mentioned, the U’s second came only 5 minutes later, courtesy of the taliswoman, Molly ‘Hotshot’ Hill. A bouncing ball came to Hill just outside the box, and after seeing the goalkeeper off her line, there was only one thing in Hill’s mind, and the 22 year old lofted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of net. A typically brilliant goal from Magic Molly and the U’s were 2 up within 10 minutes.

And after that, the half settled down. Georgia Tibble’s long range efforts caused constant panic for Chichester, but the Chi certainly settled as the game went on. After the clinical Hastings start, Chichester, the home side in Game 1, managed to start playing their admittedly great brand of football.

However, the defences were most certainly on top, with the U’s centre back partnership of Rosie Muggeridge and Sophie Reed looking as formidable as ever, stopping Chichester from putting the final touch on some good moves – and whilst at the other end, the U’s were playing a wide game, putting Williams and Payne to the test, but the score after 10 was the score after 30 (shorter halves for double headers) and the U’s went in 2 goals to the good.

HT : Chichester City 0-2 Hastings Utd

Whilst I’d love to wax lyrical about a really good second half…I can’t. The second half followed the same pattern as the first of the defences on top and no real clear cut chances. As is written on the weekly, Hamilton dealt with everything with everything that came over the top or through the middle, and Chichester dealt with any U’s threat. Chichester did, however, continue to improve as the game went on. It was a quiet half, but the U’s were very happy for it to be a quiet half as it secured a win from game 1 of the day.

FT : Chichester City 0-2 Hastings Utd

Line Up – Hamilton, Buckley, Muggeridge, Reed (★), Corrigan, Relf ©, Carter, Williams (Sharp), Payne, Tibble, Hill

Game 2

Game 2 was eerily similar to the opening of game 1…except it was Chichester out of the blocks quickest. It was the antithesis of what we’ve come to know and love from the U’s, and those listening to my commentary would have heard first hand how, frankly, dreadful they were in the first half. Chichester were making it to every second ball, and their desire in every department meant that they were enjoying the rub of green that the U’s had in game 1. It took only 7 minutes for the Chi to make their early dominance count, when a through ball was seized upon and tucked past Hamilton. Nothing less than the Chi deserved, who had found the cutting edge after an hour of not quite finishing their chances.

Their second goal was similar, with a ball in behind not being read by the U’s and Chichester getting in behind to knock past the goalkeeper and in. And, whilst the U’s showed some glimpses of their vintage play (their best chance came through a Williams effort straight at the goalkeeper), but, at half time, the U’s deservedly went in 0-2 down.

HT : Hastings Utd 0-2 Chichester City

As was vitally important, the U’s came out much improved in the second half. There was a spark that had previously been lacking in the camp and started in electric fashion, applying real pressure onto the Chi. Georgia Tibble in particular had the green and whites on tenterhooks with her distance shooting – but unfortunately the final pass just wasn’t coming off for the U’s, and once Chichester had a prolonged spell of possession (their playing out from the back was excellent), the U’s still had chances, but the feeling of needing anearly goal was inescapable, and as time waned on and the strength of the net wasn’t being tested, it was clear that it just wouldn’t be the U’s game. This was confirmed in stoppage time as a ball was played into the middle by the Chi and tapped in for a 3rd to wrap up a mixed day in West Sussex for the U’s.

HT : Hastings Utd 0-3 Chichester City

Line Up – Hamilton, Buckley (Sharp), Muggeridge (★), Reed, Corrigan, Relf ©, Carter, Williams (Carmichael), Payne (Topliss), Tibble, Hill

The Ry-view : A very mixed day. It leaves an interesting situation for the U’s, who are second in the table, and one point behind Montpellier Villa with one game in hand…And who are the next opponents for the team? Yup, Montpellier @ TGS Pilot Field this coming Sunday. The U’s go into it knowing that they are still in pole position – A win wraps up the title, whilst a draw will mean the title race will go on for one more week, when the U’s travel to Roffey to replay the previously abandoned tie. However, due to the U’s vastly superior goal difference, two draws will be enough. Because of other results on Sunday, it’s still in the U’s hands, and there are several pathways to glory. All the U’s hard work could seal it Sunday…but could so easily go to waste, as we saw in the complete polar opposite U’s we got in the two games against Sunday. My message : Be optimistic. This is ours to lose. And the team’ll be more motivated than ever to not let that happen.

Next Fixture : Montpellier Villa (H), 9/05/21

Ryan Segal