It was the perfect start to life back on the pitch after the lengthy shutdown caused by the Covid pandemic.
The match was the green and whites’ first competitive outing since the restart, whereas Kent had already played their first-round tie earlier in the week, squeezing past Enfield Town Ladies on penalties.
The first half on a cool but sunny afternoon saw both teams checking each other out, with the hosts having the better of things. Kent’s key striker Charley Macneil was forced off through injury which gave Abi Adewunmi her chance to shine up front and her pace had Chichester on their toes.
Sophie Phelps and Amber Howden were a tower or strength at the back for Chi and Selsey and little was troubling keeper Issy Forster in the home goal.
Jane Yeates looked dangerous up front, for Chichester but they couldn’t find their spark in the final third.
It was goalless at the break and following the resumption, it was the visitors who found an extra gear and took a shock lead approaching the hour mark.
Pushing into the Chichester half, Chloe Francis laid the ball into the path of Amy Russ who averted the attentions of several players before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net.
Chichester needed to respond quickly and did so within a minute. Simmonds poked the ball over the top and Yeates darted through to beat the keeper to the ball and stab it home to make it 1-1.
Chichester grew in confidence and soon the hosts had their noses in front from birthday girl Simmonds as she swung in a corner that arrowed
sweetly over everybody and into the far corner. It was a terrific moment met by a rousing cheer from the sidelines.
Simmonds grabbed Chi’s third, and her second of the game, with five minutes left to put the seal on a great team performance and a player of the
match display to take Chichester through to the third round.
With Kent pushing players forward, Chichester broke quickly from defence and after a swift exchange of passes between Yeates and Simmonds, the latter saw her chance and hit a powerful drive from long distance that, with the assistance of a slight deflection, flew into the back of the
Chichester now look forward to an away trip to Leyton Orient Women next weekend with a glamour tie at Women’s Super League side West Ham Ladies awaiting the winner.
With confidence high, Chichester will certainly feel the cup run can keep on going for some time yet.
Chi and Selsey: Issy Forster, Sophie Phelps, Amber Howden, Sienna Howell, Jess Burke, Gemma Staples, Megan Fox(c), Jane Yeates, Gemma Simmonds, Ariana Goodman and Tash Wild. Subs: Nicky Lake, Sharna-Capel Watson, Sarah Saunders. Unused subs: Emma Alexandre, Molly Thorns, Amy Maidment, Charley Davey, Nic Robinson.