Lauren Cheshire’s penalty was the difference as the end of an era came for Chichester City with a 1-0 win over Watford in the FA Women’s National League southern premier division.
While emotions ran high for Matt Wright’s final home game as first-team coach and vice-chairman, the team put in a performance worthy of the 11 years he had served.
In the 40th minute Kim Stenning was fouled in the box and captain Cheshire coolly smashed home the only goal from the spot.
Aaron Smith fielded the same starting XI who had beaten Coventry United - who have won the division - two weeks earlier.
The two sides stood for a guard of honour ahead of kick-off as Mr Chichester City Ladies, Wright, stepped out one last time as a coach and volunteer.
Chi started quickly and within the first minute Molly Clark was denied by the post before Watford keeper Weronika Baranowska stopped a second shot from the midfielder.
Chances started to come thick and fast for Chi. Clark put a couple of shots over from long range while Stenning was offside after Tammy Waine’s flicked-on pass.
Watford’s Leanne Bell made a break down the right, tipping the ball over the tracking Waine, but Nadine Bazan pressured her into putting the shot wide.
Chi’s high press was initiated by Helen Ogle and she managed to nick the ball from the feet of Georgie Edwards only to drag her shot wide.
The visitors threatened through Adekite Fatuga-Dada but Cheshire kept pace to delay the attacker’s advances.
Lewry and Stenning both had half chances that Baranowska claimed.Samantha Hallsworth and Andrea Carid Cao created opportunities for Watford but were thwarted.
Lewry controlled a Clark cross well but failed to hit the target but five minutes before the break Chi went ahead. Stenning was poised to head in a Clark cross but the striker was judged by the officials to have been pushed by Hattie Kettle and the referee pointed to the spot.
Captain calm Cheshire set herself for the spot kick and while Baranowska dived the right way, she was never stopping the power of Cheshire’s penalty that flew into the top corner.
Chi had the stronger start in the second half and Lewry had two chances to double the lead but neither found its intended target.
Ogle found herself one-on-one with Baranowska but didn’t get enough on the shot as the Watford keeper kept the winger out.
Attacking chances were created by both sides but the visitors’ efforts were snuffed out quickly as Lauren Dolbear remained relatively unchallenged while Clark curled a shot just past the top corner.
Sub Tash Stephens set up Ogle inside the box, her shot was deflected behind and Watford somehow kept the ball out of their goal from the corner.
Eight minutes of injury-time were signalled and Dolbear was quick to clear her lines as Waine’s headed clearance fell behind her.
Watford tried to launch a final effort to stretch the Chi backline but Tiff Taylor denied the chance.
The 1-0 victory for Chi moves them back into second place.
Now Chichester City head to Lancing FC’s Culver Road ground for the Sussex County Women’s Challenge Cup final against Brighton & Hove Albion’s development side this Thursday (April 18, 7.15pm).
Chi City: Dolbear, Bazan, Cheshire, Waine, Taylor, L Clark (Simmonds 59’), Barron, M Clark, Lewry (Stephens 66’), Ogle, Stenning (Tubby 85’). Unused sub: Ingram.