PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies made it eight league and cup wins in a row on Sunday with a 5-0 victory at Chichester City in the National League Southern Premier Division.
The Pilgrims, who have only played twice at home this season, are beginning to look like title challengers. They currently sit third in the table but have games in hand over the two sides ahead of them – Crawley and Watford.
With doubts over the weather, Argyle made the long-trip to West Sussex on the day, setting off at 7am.
Their preparations for the match were hit by losing midfielder Jessie Jones due to an injury on Friday night and then having fellow midfielder Kayley Lane fail a pre-match fitness test. But such is Argyle’s strength in depth that manager Dave Leonard was able to put Steph Beck and Zoe Cunningham into midfield as their replacements.
The Pilgrims were also without coach Vicky Fannon who was ill so Leonard called in director of football Trevor Rodd to give a hand at short notice.
“Not only do we pull out all the stops on the pitch but off it as well,” said Leonard, who celebrated picking up his first ever points against Chichester.
“I can’t tell you how delighted we are. I know people will say Chichester are bottom of the league, but it is a tough place to go to and they had their tails up after their close defeat against Watford last week but we put their fire out, we did a professional job.”
Chichester came out on the attack and shot narrowly wide, but Argyle responded with Leah Burridge finding Helen Bleazard, who just lost her footing and shot wide.
The Pilgrims, who have not played at home since September 15, slowly got into the game. Knapman had a couple of chances, while captain Katie Middleton had an effort blocked. Chichester goalkeeper Isobelle Foster then made a superb double save – first to deny Bleazard with the ball rebounding to Becky Dandridge whose follow up effort was also saved.
The pressure eventually told, but Argyle had to wait until the 40th minute to open the scoring when Amber Pollock collected the ball some 35 yards out before smashing in a rocket of a half volley.
All the action came in the second half. Burridge, Pollock and Dandridge all came close before the Pilgrims doubled their lead when Mollie Taylor celebrated her 150th appearance by heading in at the back post.
The game then became a little scrappy although Argyle continued to create chances.
Bleazard, Dandridge and Middleton all had opportunities before the third goal did eventually come in the 71st minute when, after a Cunningham effort had been saved, Middleton appeared at the near post to head in a Dandridge corner.
The fourth goal came from another Dandridge corner which was headed out to Cunningham, who looped the ball to the back post where the predatory Knapman headed in at the back post.
And Argyle were not finished as, after good interplay, Knapman knocked in her second goal with a clinical finish to complete the victory.
“We did a professional job,” said manager Leonard. “It showed the quality of depth we have with girls coming in. It was a great result.
“I genuinely think it will make the teams around us go – well Watford struggled to beat them 3-2 last week and they have gone and posted five. We were very professional in our attitude and application and that for me was as good as a result as we got away at Cardiff.”
Argyle squad: B Kyle, L Burridge, E Dover, B Jackson, L Huntley, F Ivall, A Pollock, B Dandridge, S Beck, Z Cunningham, N Knapman, H Bleazard, K Middleton, M Taylor.