Chi Man of the Match Kaleem Haitham (Picture: Daniel Harker)
Reporter: Dan Andrade
A Scott Jones brace helped City to a resounding victory over Lingfield in the sunshine at Oaklands Park, in front of a large crowd.
Manager Miles Rutherford made changes to the side that suffered a first SCFL premier division setback at Saltdean the previous week. Jones started up top in front of Dave Herbert, Rob Hutchings, Matt Axell, Lorenzo Dolcetti and Kaleem Haitham. Kieran Hartley returned to his familiar full-back position with Connor Cody and Ben Pashley in the centre and Ellis Martin on the left.
The visitors, without Sammy Clements who scored a hat-trick in Lingfield’s 5-0 defeat of East Preston in their last game, started brightly - forays down the right flank causing Chi some problems.
Jones had the first effort of the match, pulling his shot just wide after a great cross from Haitham following a pinpoint free-kick from Martin.
Moments later, Haitham controlled the ball on the half way line and ran through Lingfield’s defence, to then calmly slot it past Dan Burnett.
Jones bagged his first of the game, stooping low to guide his header home after a super cross from Hartley.
Soon after Jones turned provider as he set up Matt Axell, who made it 3-0 within the first 20 minutes, finishing off a flowing team move at close range.
Naseem James, a threat for the Lingers throughout, went on a mazy run but could only guide his shot into the side netting before Dave Heaton fired one over just before the half hour.
Rob Hutchings scored the pick of the bunch, collecting of precision pass from Herbert with a delightful first touch, and then curling it inch perfectly into the top corner.
Shortly after Jordan Matthews was called into action, denying Jake Connaris by diving low to his left, pushing the ball away.
After the restart, substitute Gicu Iordache brought new life to the game, running through the spine of the visitors only to be halted by a last-ditch block.
Jones went on to grab his second of the game in the 59th minute, after a quality delivery from Lorenzo Dolcetti was fed to the Chi No.9 at the back post by Cody.
Three chances came and went in quick succession for Haitham, Cody and Iordache.
Moments later James threatened again, running full steam ahead before passing to Jay Mayhew, but the substitute’s effort lacked any venom to trouble Matthews.
Tiago Andrade then linked up with Jones and Haitham, although Iordache’s shot was straight at the keeper.
Iordache continued to create havoc, with Jones setting him up once more, only to be denied by a top drawer save by Burnett.
The Romanian didn’t have to wait long for his deserved goal, latching on to a threaded through-ball from Hartley and steering it past Burnett, much to the delight of the home fans.
Pashley produced the pass of the game in the 79th minute, picking out Man of the Match Haitham. His shot was saved by Burnett, unluckily for him however the ball deflected off a retreating Lingfield defender and over the line to put Chi in seventh heaven.
Lingfield were unlucky not to score a consolation goal. Pashley made a fine tackle on Ben Connolly in the box, before the same player was denied by an impressive block in the dying minutes by Dolcetti, and then Lukas Franzen-Jones cleared a Mayhew effort off the line.
Jones might have got a hat-trick late on but Burnett saved with his feet before getting something on Hartley’s fierce effort with practically the last kick of the game.
The win takes Chichester up to second place, two points behind Horsham YMCA with a game in hand.
City welcome Hassocks to Oaklands Park in the SCFA Senior Cup on Tuesday night (Kick Off 7:45pm)
Chichester - Matthews, Hartley, Martin, Dolcetti, Cody, Pashley, Hutchings, Herbert, Jones, Axell, Haitham. Subs: (Lewis, Iordache, Franzen-Jones, Andrade, Ndlovu)
Updated 14:46 - 2 Oct 2018 by Ian Worden