St Francis Rangers made it six points from two games on Wednesday night thanks to two goal Tom Saunders winning Charker’s side the points in what was a scrappy game at the Colwell, following on from an excellent three points gained at The Oval against Eastbourne United on Saturday.
Charker made only one change from the side that went to Eastbourne and was again without club captain Aaron Walsh who was serving the final game of his suspension. Front man Luke Leppard was ruled out with a back injury whilst Ben Palmer & Jimmy Cochrane remained unavailable but Rickie Peacock and Lewis Westlake returned to the fold albeit on the subs bench having been away and in the reserve team respectively.
It was Charker’s side who started the strongest dominating the opening gambit but failing to put any score on the board as Chichester struggled to get into the game. Steve Smith came close early on with their best chance of the half when Dan Lawrence careered forward from right back, was slotted behind the Chichester back four and got to the byline and pulled back perfectly for Smith who at full stretch hit the crossbar from six yards.
Next up it was James Westlake, who tested the away keeper Anthony Ender, minutes later after quick interchange between Weston, Millroy ending in Westlake firing towards the bottom corner only for Ender to pluck out the strike which was destined for the back of the net.
It was all Rangers until about Twenty minutes in and Daren Pearces Chichester began to take a foot hold in the game with some good link up play but never really threatened Rob Gordon’s goal as Rangers begun to take their foot off the pedal and sat off their visitors.
Former East Grinstead, Crowborough & Crawley Down front man, Saunders, who struck for Rangers on the 28th minute when he tucked away from close ranger after the Chi backline couldn’t deal with Luke Akehursts deep free kick and Saunders, from close range finished accordingly with just Ender to beat, the home side 1-0 and that’s how the first half finished.
Whatever was said in the Rangers dressing room at half time clearly made an impact as they started the second period the stronger side and on 51 minutes Saunders struck again when a cross from Lawrence bounced up to Saunders to slam home in clinical fashion from close range.
Toms brother Sam could have made it 3-0 shortly after when he flashed over from 8 yards with his left foot after some neat link up play involving Smith Weston and Saunders. the game continued to be a scrappy affair in the remaining half hour and Chi got themselves back in the game when Michael Frangou capitalised for Pearce’s side and finished in excellent fashion after a mix up between Hawkes and Bryant from a long Chichester ball wasn’t dealt with and Frangou slotted to Gordon’s right with his left foot leaving Gordon with no chance.
The closing period proved to be difficult for Rangers but they showed true determination grit and desire to grind out the result with manager Charker clearly happy afterwards.
He said: “We made it hard work tonight. We could have killed the game off earlier but we huffed and puffed a bit to be honest. But three points is three points and I’m chuffed with that. I was a bit disappointed at half time because we were excellent Saturday and I felt we weren’t the same tonight in the first 45.
“We showed some real character in the second half as we were under the cosh for a period in the second half but we held out and credit to the boys for digging in.”
Tom (Saunders) was top drawer tonight. He’s been about a bit, he’s experienced and has knows where the goal is - he showed that tonight and he’s taken his chance for sure. Another big game Saturday, when we go to Crawley Down and one where we will be going with the intention to pickup nothing less than three points’
MoM - only one candidate, two goal man tom Saunders repaid his managers faith with a brace