Dave Herbert, seen here in action against Peacehaven, scored twice for Chi (Picture: Kate Shemilt)
Chichester extended their lead at the top of the SCFL premier division to five points with a hard fought victory against plucky opponents Loxwood.
The hosts came into the match on the back of five wins in six games. City boss Miles Rutherford made several changes to the side that thumped Peacehaven 6-1 at the weekend. In came Ryan Peake, Rob Hutchings and Kaleem Haitham, with Kieran Hartley starting at right back after playing on the wing on Saturday.
The visitors had the best chance in the opening ten minutes when a slip-up from Peake let Matt Hards in, only for the Loxwood forward to drag his effort wide with the goal gaping.
Before this Chi might have taken the lead themselves. A long ball sent Dave Herbert on his way but keeper Liam Matthews did well with his angles and an ambitious follow up was turned out for a corner.
Moments later Matthews spilled a cross. In the resulting scramble the Magpies managed to clear the ball on the line and then Tiago Andrade inadvertently blocked a teammate’s effort.
A couple of opportunities came and went for Loxwood before Matthews palmed away a super knock from Lorenzo Dolcetti following a clever short corner.
In a performance that belied their place in the league, Loxwood were having a real go but fell behind in unfortunate circumstances after 16 minutes. Andrade’s touch was sublime when a delivery from Ben Pashley picked him out in the box. Matthews got something on the Chi striker’s attempt but it deflected in off one of his defenders.
Four minutes later Andrade back-heeled the ball into the path of Herbert only for the City skipper to shoot wide.
A raid down the left split open the Chichester defence. Alfie Gritt teed up Lewis Westlake but his effort was always rising.
Chi doubled the lead in the 35th minute when Herbert netted his fourth goal of the season – a nice strike into the bottom corner.
And he might have had another shortly after but lifted the ball over the keeper and the bar following a slick move.
Hutchings then beat the offside trap on the stroke of half time only to be denied by Matthews.
Gritt went close for Loxwood just after the re-start as the visitors sought to get back into the game.
Then Peake headed a Dolcetti free-kick wide of the upright before a well-timed tackle from Brendan Milborrow prevented an opportunity for City as Hartley surged into the penalty area.
The visitors pulled one back on 64 minutes when Tom Frankland beat Jordan Matthews with a good finish after a swift counter attack.
Rutherford brought on Sam Ndlovu, Connor Cody and Steve Herbert and the triple substitution paid dividends within a minute. A nice piece of skill from Hutchings ensured he kept the ball in play and the No.10 fed a pass to Ndlovu who skipped past a couple of defenders and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner to give his side a two goal cushion once more.
City switched off at the back when Harry Williams netted from close range to make it 3-2 with ten minutes to go.
Herbert settled the nerves of the Oaklands Park faithful though with his third goal in two games, rifling a shot in after he’d received the ball on the edge of the box.
There was still time for a chance at either end – Cody blocking a shot on the goal line and Matt Axell firing just over the bar in the last minute.
It wasn’t Chi’s best performance of the season by any means but a welcome win nevertheless against opponents that tested Rutherford's team all the way, and a result made more significant as Saltdean and Pagham both dropped points.
Next up for City – a trip to Oakwood in the RUR Cup on Saturday 15th September (Kick Off 3pm)
Chichester – Matthews, Hartley, Martin, Dolcetti, Peake, Pashley, Axell, Dave Herbert, Andrade, Hutchings, Haitham. Subs: Steve Herbert, Cody, Way, Lewis, Ndlovu,
Loxwood – Matthews, Courtney, Warren, Milborrow, Joels, Williams, Frankland, Westlake, Gritt, Hards, Jardim. Subs: Death, Hooper-Ridsdale, Bennett, Neathey, Maunder
Updated 11:38 - 12 Sep 2018 by Ian Worden