Chichester Surrender Top Spot in League
In a week when 4-3 scorelines have been making the headlines in the F.A. Cup and the Premiership, Chichester City were on the wrong end of a similar result at Horsham YMCA to lose their top spot in the County League.
While City suffered, East Preston hammered Hassocks 6-1 on their own patch to take over the League leadership that City have held since October.
The City line up included two new faces with Scott Tipper, signed from Sidlesham operating up front with Roger Moore and Lewis Fennymore from Havant and Waterlooville playing wide on the right.
The new formation hardly had time to settle before YMCA took a sixth minute lead as Phil Churchill found space right through the heart of the City defence to race away and stab a low shot past Lee Preston in the visitors goal.
As City looked for an equaliser Dean Carden headed a Moore header off the line from Mark Jackson’s corner and Tipper miscued after a run from Moore had set up the chance.
Preston then got into a tangle with Paul Young but recovered well to reclaim the ball after being caught in possession.
But the first half was fairly tame in comparison to the end to end entertainment that the two sides served up in the last half hour as goals rained in at both ends.
Joel O’Hara started the goal feast heading in when City failed to clear a corner on the hour to make it 2-0 and then immediately missed two more good chances that could have put the game beyond City’s reach.
Instead City found new momentum with the arrival of Russ Hardwell, Neil Murfin and Jamie Laidlaw as a trio of subs. On 75 minutes Steve Leigh gave the visitors some hope popping up at the far post to convert a head-on from Tipper from Ben Hitchman’s throw.
Then within a minute Leigh could have equalised but nudged Jackson’s free kick just wide.
However pressing forward for an equaliser has its risks and Young broke clear to make it 3-1 before YMCA goalkeeper Ian Chatfield fumbled Tony Stephen’s shot for Laidlaw to make it 3-2.
Chatfield did better with another well struck effort from Stephens before James Bird restored the home sides two goal advantage with a long range effort that fairly ripped into the bottom corner.
There was still time for Stephens to make it 4-3 as Chatfield spilled again from Tipper but YMCA held on to put a huge dent in City’s title hopes.
Phil Churchill was nominated YM’s man of the match, but for me the midfield trio of Bird, O’Hara and Matt Duffield were the key as they generally held sway over the City middle line. YMCA have had a miserable season so far but may just be perking up in time to cause some problems to the leading clubs.
City will play Three Bridges in the semi-final of the Sussex RUR Charity Cup after Bridges won 2-1 at Arundel on Tuesday evening last week. The date and venue of the semi-final has yet to be announced.
In the semi-final of the John O’Hara League Challenge Cup, City will play Arundel who beat Southwick 2-1 in their Quarter Final on Saturday.
Report written by Trevor Wallis
Chichester Team: Preston, Fennymore (Hardwell), Jackson, Hitchman, Jones, Leigh, Stephens, Thomas, Moore (N. Murfin), Tipper, Cole (Laidlaw)
Subs: Hardwell, Laidlaw and N. Murfin (all used)
Scorers: Lee, Laidlaw, Stephens