They've done it! Chichester City are SCFL premier division champions.
They say April is the cruellest month, but not this year.
City's promotion pushes the last two seasons have petered out in April. Four losses in April 2017 meant the Oaklands Park outfit finished third behind Shoreham and Haywards Heath and another four defeats in April 2018, after a disappointing run of league form, saw them finish sixth in the league.
But not this year.
Chi’s first match in April turned out to be a history-making one when a goal from top scorer Scott Jones just before the break and an Emmett Dunn header in the 89th minute gave Chichester the points they needed to clinch the title - with three games to go.
The hosts came into the match on the back of seven straight wins in an unbeaten run of 20 league games stretching back to November.
Langney had a real go when the teams met in the reverse fixture before Christmas. Trailing 2-0 at the interval on that occasion, City staged a second-half comeback and grabbed all three points thanks to a special ‘Peakey Blinder’ moment as defender Ryan Peake scored with four minutes to go.
Here, the visitors, who were promoted as division one runners-up last season, had to soak up early pressure. Peake gave Langney keeper Dan Hutchins something to think about after five minutes when he headed a Matt Axell free-kick goalwards and then got a connection on Chi’s first corner of the match.
Next Josh Clack forced Hutchins into a save with his legs before captain Connor Cody went close. The best chance of the opening 15 minutes fell to Langney’s Sonny Dollaway after Ben Pashley was dispossessed by Tyler Capon. Capon picked out Dollaway in the box only for the No.4 to drag his shot off-target with the goal gaping.
At the other end Hutchins spilled a fierce drive from Gicu Iordache and then a clever flick-on by Jones set up the Romanian for an effort that went narrowly wide. Axell wasn’t far away with another set-piece moments later and Jones might have done better after left back Rob Hutchings delivered a super cross.
It was March player of the month Jones who fittingly broke the deadlock with a classy header on the stroke of half time to send a bumper Oaklands Park crowd into raptures. It was the striker’s seventh goal in four games and his 21st of the season in the league.
Peake, Haitham and Clack had chances for City just after the restart as the hosts pressed for a second goal. Clack and Jones both went close with headers next and Dunn had an attempt tipped over the bar.
It was all Chi now. Clack fired a shot into the side-netting on 73 minutes before Jones missed a header many would have bet their mortgages on.
Hutchins then denied Jones again before Chichester were awarded a soft penalty with three minutes to go. Hutchins did well to get down low to save Clack’s spot-kick - but there was nothing he could do about the 89th minute goal that sealed all three points for the home side as Canadian youngster Dunn beat him with a well-placed header.
Good times never seemed so good.
There were jubilant scenes after the final whistle as everyone involved with the club celebrated and players and staff sung along to ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the home dressing room.