Chesterfield Ladies stretched their impressive unbeaten run to 11 games on Easter Sunday as they defeated Oughtibridge War Memorial Women 1-0 away from home in a hard-fought encounter. A sensational 30 yard strike in the 78th minute from Amy Pashley secured all three points for Mike Noon's side and extended their lead at the top of the East Midlands Womens Premier Division to seven points ahead of Northampton Town Women who, remarkably, now have five games in hand on Chesterfield. This game was a really hard-fought and scrappy affair and Oughtibridge's stubborn resistance provided a stern test of Chesterfield Ladies' title credentials. Both teams had huge chances to get off to a dream start in the opening ten minutes. After only two minutes played, Georgia Willson's close range header was well saved by the Oughtibridge goalkeeper. Just two minutes later, the home side had a golden opportunity to take the lead but their free header from a corner kick rolled wide of the target. Oughtibridge could also have easily broken the deadlock after only nine minutes but Sammy Stokes came to Chesterfield's rescue when she cleared an Oughtibridge effort away just in front of the goal line with goalkeeper Nicolle Watson out of position. After a chaotic and eventful opening ten minutes to the match, the rest of the first half ended up being a very scrappy encounter with both sides really struggling to retain possession on a very bumpy pitch. Despite this, the Spireites had a good opportunity to take the lead in the 41st minute when Hannah Baker's free kick was blocked by an Oughtibridge defender just in front of the goal line. The rebound fell to Eleanor Abercrombie but her effort was skied over the bar from close range.
The second half carried on in the same vein as the majority of the first 45 minutes with both sides giving the ball away frequently and both defences holding strong. Due to this, there was a lack of clear-cut chances until the final 15 minutes of the game. Georgia Willson managed a shot on target from 20 yards out in the 62nd minute but her effort was straight at the keeper while Amy Pashley's 25 yard free kick forced the Oughtibridge goalkeeper into action when she palmed the ball away to concede a corner. The second half exploded into life though in the final 15 minutes and it was a moment of magic from Amy Pashley that finally broke the deadlock. In the 78th minute, Pashley opted for an ambitious 30 yard effort. Her shot was struck superbly and the ball looped over the goalkeeper's head and just underneath the cross bar for an exceptional goal to make it 1-0 to the Spireites. With time running out to salvage something from the game, Oughtibridge upped their tempo and the Spireites defence were having to soak up a lot of pressure in the final stages of the match. The home side won a dangerous looking free-kick in the 83rd minute but Chesterfield Ladies goalkeeper Nicolle Watson was able to save the set-piece comfortably. It was heart in mouth time though for everyone in the 90th minute when Oughtibridge looked to have secured a very late equaliser to break Chesterfield's hearts. However, the home side's close-range effort resulted in a magnificent one-handed save from Watson to tip the ball around the post and concede a corner. Watson's moment of brilliance surely has to go down as one of the best saves of the whole season. The full-time whistle sparked celebrations for the Spireites players and staff alike as they knew that only a win would do if they are to have any chance of winning the East Midlands Womens Premier Division. The 1-0 victory away at Oughtibridge puts Chesterfield Ladies in a very odd position. Mike Noon's side are now seven points clear at the top of the league with only one game remaining of their league season; however, they will have to wait another three weeks before they get to play on the final day away at Lincoln United Women. In the meantime, Mike Noon and his squad must wait and see how the likes of Northampton Town Women and Lincoln United Women fare with their five games in hand each on the Spireites that they must now somehow squeeze into this three week period. Only once the games in hand have finally been played will Chesterfield Ladies know what the situation is and whether they can still win the league title on the final day of the campaign. Chesterfield Ladies team: Watson, Warren (Nuttall 46), Pashley, Abercrombie, Willson, Camfield, Cook (Frances-Creaser 46), Baker, Stokes, Standen, Fidler. Unused subs: Murray, Marshall, Everley. Mike Noon Quotes: "It was great to come here and get the three points. I don't think we played how we would normally play. This is a difficult place to come and Oughtibridge are a good team. We drew with them a few weeks ago at our place. The pitch made it a bit difficult at times with a few bobbles. In the end, our quality shone through. Amy Pashley scored a great goal to give us the win. We made some great defensive tackles at the end and Nicolle made a great save at the end too to keep the clean sheet. There were things we could have done better today but it's three points in the second to last game of the season which keeps us up there - not a bad day." "I didn't have to say too much to the players at half time. The players knew themselves that their performance hadn't been the best. They were a bit lethargic and a bit off the pace. But we tweaked a few things tactically in the second half and we eventually got that breakthrough. I think the players went up a gear in the second half; probably could still have gone up a few more. In the end though, we grafted, we made sure we didn't concede and we scored a good goal, so I'm really happy." "We made some really important tackles towards the end of the game. Sammy Stokes, Amy Pashley and Eleanor Abercrombie all made some crucial tackles. Nicolle made a fantastic save at the end...she's a great goalkeeper and she's shown that again today." "We're quite fortunate that we've managed to get almost all of our games in now. That leaves us with this period though of three weeks before the last game of the season. All of the other teams in this league have got to play in between then and all of the other teams around the top have got to play each other. It will be interesting to see how all that unfolds. Our players have just got to keep training hard and we'll possibly play some friendlies to keep us ticking over and be in the best possible shape for that final game at Lincoln which could end up being a really exciting game."