By Ian Worden
Chichester City 1-0 Peacehaven & Telscombe
City signing Scott Murfin joins Scott Jones and Dan Hegarty causing trouble upfront
Picture: Olivia Ellis
Chichester held on to pick up all three points against title contenders Peacehaven after battling with ten men for the best part of an hour in a dramatic match between second and third in the league.
Scott Jones scored the game's only goal – a fantastic header in the 51st minute.
The Chi management of Miles Rutherford, Graeme Gee and Danny Potter were full of praise for the team's second half performance against very good opposition. “That was a great win today. We played nearly 60 minutes with ten men and we created chances, scored the winner and defended so well. Scott Jones scored an outstanding goal and the Chi Ultras were again unreal” said Potter.
The win, City's fourth in a row, keeps the pressure up on league leaders Haywards Heath.
The visitors came into the match at Oaklands Park in fine form themselves having lost only once in their last twelve games. In Cameron Wiltshire, Peacehaven have an impressive play-maker and for large parts of the first half the midfielder orchestrated things effectively.
And it was the Magpies, playing in a red away kit rather than the familiar black and white stripes, who had the best of the early passages of play following a lacklustre start from their hosts. City keeper Ant Ender had to have his wits about him when Wiltshire whipped a set piece in from the left. Then a poor throw out by the Chi No.1 on 10 minutes put Ruben French in trouble and Jack Lee needed to get a strong header to clear the danger as the resultant free kick fizzed in towards Peacehaven forwards.
Josh Clack got the home side some respite with a couple of runs down the left hand side and then had his team's first real effort on target in the 19th minute after good work from Scott Murfin, making his first start in a second spell back at the club after signing from Pagham midweek.
Moments later Dave Herbert troubled Erikson Aga with a fierce left foot shot that the goalie did well to get down to.
Herbert was then seemingly obstructed on the edge of the box following a nice through ball but Mr D'Urso was having none of it.
At the other end Lee conceded a free kick and picked up a booking for his trouble. A super set piece from Felipe Lira after this smacked against the bar and Ben Pashley managed to smuggle the loose ball out for a corner.
Then a chance fell to Frazer Massen before Conor Sidwell missed an opportunity to prod the ball in from close range.
For the home side Clack sent one into the side-netting on 34 minutes just prior to the first half's main talking point when Martin was dismissed for a heavy challenge on Wiltshire that on another day might have been a yellow. The referee took his time over the decision, consulting with assistant Paul Barratt, only to brandish a red.
A minute or so before the break Josh Marshall had a good chance but he delayed after a slick pass played him in and Chi defenders were able to deal with things.
Miles Rutherford clearly had words with his team at the interval.
Sixty seconds after the restart French's corner was flicked on by Murfin to Lee who could have done better and chastised himself for it.
Jones then tried an audacious bicycle kick from another corner. He'd scored one of these a couple of weeks ago but this one wasn't going in, although City probably had a genuine penalty shout as Lira tried to block.
The Chi leading scorer's goal six minutes in was something else. Clack whipped in a free kick that he was lucky to get to be fair and there was Jones to find the back of the net with a bullet header – his fourth goal in three games.
The No.9 joked in an Up The Chi interview last month that as someone who scores a lot of headed goals he didn't want to be known as, in his words, “just a head on a stick”. But you couldn't find anyone who wouldn't mind that label for scoring goals like this one.
Despite being down to ten men the home side carved out other chances. Clack found Jones again on 56 minutes but the ball wouldn't sit up for him. Jones then shot wide after a nice piece of skill set him up.
A young Peacehaven side struggled to break down Chichester's stubborn resistance and couldn't make the extra-man advantage pay. The last ten minutes together with the five added on for stoppages put Chi fans through the wringer, although the ultras didn't stop singing.
Lee, who was a stand-out man of the match, headed clear a drive from Sidwell. Next Ender got a glove to a close range shot that was then somehow blocked on the line. Sidwell had another go but pulled his shot wide, Reilly Grant blasted over and then deep into time added on Ender pulled off a world class save tipping the ball away spectacularly to protect his fourth consecutive clean sheet.
It was quite a 'debut' match for Murfin. He said, “It's great to be back. We're really pleased to get the win. That's the most important thing. I'm looking forward to playing minutes and pushing on and finishing as high as we can. Today was hard work but all the lads dug in and there was a really good team spirit.”
Chi travel to Kent next Saturday for the Buildbase FA Vase 3rd round match against Whitstable Town.
Chichester: Ender, French, Martin, Lee, Williams, Hegarty, Pashley, Clack, Murfin, Herbert, Jones. Subs (Hutchings, Kanjanda, Haitham, Ndlovu)
Peacehaven & Telscombe: Aga, Cowd, Lira, Massen, Phillips, Sidwell, Lagrange, Grant, Marshall, Ford, Cameron Wiltshire. Subs (Levy, Burton, Avens, Callum Wiltshire, Richmond)