Cup Winning Season
A lot of people had Chi written off before this Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup final. For them, Miles Rutherford’s side were going to be thrown to the Lions.
Pagham were certainly the team in better form heading into the match at Culver Road, the home of the Sussex FA, with seven wins in ten games, whereas Chi had lost four of their last six in a Jekyll and Hyde run beating premier division runners up one match and losing to a bottom three side the next, as a promotion push unravelled.
Smarting from a heavy defeat to champions Haywards Heath at the weekend and with painful memories of the Boxing Day derby drubbing against Pagham, the real Chi City stood up.
This was a classy performance, to a man.
Chichester were without leading goal-scorer Scott Jones. Jones bagged a brace at Broadbridge Heath late on to book Chi a final place. But Rutherford and assistant manager Graeme Gee drafted in duel signing Moneyfields marksman Steve Hutchings, who certainly made an impact in his last appearance in the history making win at Horley Town in the FA Vase. Hutchings would again prove instrumental in this cup match but it was two goals apiece from Jimmy Wild in the first half and Dave Herbert in the second half that would secure the silverware.
The early chances went Pagham’s way. Ryan Cox flashed an effort wide either side of a couple of set-pieces that gave City keeper Ant Ender something to think about.
Then Herbert sent over a searching cross towards Wild that was cut out by Ender’s counterpart James Binfield.
Pagham right-back Joe Kilhams, who posed a threat in the first half, gassed Ruben French in a nice move involving Callum Overton, Lloyd Rowlatt and Cox.
Fifteen minutes in Hutchings stabbed at the loose ball, only for Binfield to get a block in.
Next Kilhams cut down the line and picked out Andy Chick but it wouldn’t sit up for the midfielder before Howard Neighbour blew a golden opportunity when he got things horribly wrong.
The opener from Wild in the 23rd minute was a peach. A throw was headed on by Dan Hegarty and touched on to Wild by Herbert and the Chi No.9 cracked a wonderful left footed half volley from all of 25 yards beyond Binfield.
Ellis Martin then delivered a free-kick to Hegarty at the back stick but his effort sailed over.
Hegarty next turned provider for Hutchings who just couldn’t quite get enough on the ball.
Pagham pushed for an equaliser. Overton had a shot deflected that was finally cleared by Jack Lee; Ben Pashley had to turn a Neighbour cut-back out for a corner; and Joe Booker went close with a header.
Wild then doubled the lead on the half hour from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Booker.
Lee had a go on 34 minutes after Hutchings laid the ball back to him but it was dealt with comfortably by Binfield and moments later Lee might have got more contact on another Martin free-kick. Hutchings then blazed a free-kick from Kieran Hartley, this time, over the bar.
At the other end there was a wobbly moment for Chi on the stroke of half time but Ender and Pashley managed to tidy things up.
Ryan Davidson then had a super header palmed away by Ender who injured himself in the process. There was a lengthy delay as the shot-stopper, who is apparently hanging up his boots this season, received treatment.
City extended their lead three minutes after the break through Herbert. Wild will get the plaudits for the assist but Hutchings was key in the build-up before a great knock from Wild sent Herbert scampering away to tuck the ball calmly past Binfield.
Ender, who was a cup winner with Chichester back in his first season at the club over ten years ago, was rarely troubled in the second period but was called on in the 53rd minute to clear danger after Davidson got a downwards header into the six yard box.
Chi then almost caught out Pagham on the break but Wild’s cross just eluded Hutchings and Hegarty.
Things were unsurprisingly feisty at times, especially between James Thurgar and Hartley, who seemed to have been targeted in a bid to wind him up.
Pagham introduced a half-fit Dan Simmonds, alongside Terrell Lewis, but this risk backfired and the Lions striker with 38 league goals this season, was soon back on the sidelines having contributed little to the game.
Rutherford rang the changes too. Tafadzwa Kanjanda replaced French at left back and Kaleem Haitham came on for Martin.
Haitham made an impact almost immediately setting up Herbert, after a great run, who did the honours and lashed the ball into the back of the net.
Rob Hutchings, Chi’s April Player of the Month, was introduced for his namesake as City sought to bring on fresh legs and a new injection of pace with just over twenty minutes to play.
Lorenzo Dolcetti whipped a corner in that was inches away from Hegarty and then after a nice move Hutchings almost picked out Wild.
It was all Chi now.
Hutchings and Herbert linked up effectively but Haitham’s shot was an easy take for Binfield.
Cox was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time for a late challenge on Hartley before Haitham, Herbert and Wild might have added a fifth to provide the perfect symmetry for the Boxing Day defeat.
Both sides can reflect on fine seasons - a cup win here for Chi and a memorable run to the last sixteen of the Vase, and a top three finish for Pagham and that Parafix Sussex Senior Cup campaign.
The teams meet again on Saturday at Nyetimber Lane in the last league game (kick off 3pm).
Chichester – Ender, Hartley, French, Martin, Lee, Pashley, Herbert, Hegarty, Wild, Hutchings S, Dolcetti. Subs - Williams, Hutchings R, Haitham, Ndlovu, Kanjanda
Pagham - Binfield, Kilhams, Cox, Davidson, Booker, Horncastle, Thurgar, Chick, Neighbour, Rowlatt, Overton. Subs- Simmonds, Wollers, Van Driel, Lewis, Bingham.
Updated 12:07 - 5 May 2018 by Ian Worden