Chichester City are just four points off the SCFL premier-division leaders after two home wins in the space of four days/
Jimmy Wild scored two in each of the wins, over Saltdean and Crawley Down Gatwick.
Here are the reports...
Chichester City 3 Saltdean 0
A second Jimmy Wild double in as many games along with a late goal in stoppage time from Kaleem Haitham helped City see off a stubborn Saltdean United at Oaklands Park.
The visitors were 1-0 winners when the sides met at the start of the season. And with only three points between them in the league this was a match with a bit of an edge to it.
City – who have been named SCFL premier-division team of the month for January – were without Lorenzo Dolcetti and had Kieran Hartley serving a one-match ban. They welcomed back Ant Ender in goal and Dan Hegarty made his first start after an injury lay-off.
There were few chances in a scrappy, cagey first half littered with stoppages. Hegarty, whose combative qualities served Chi particularly well, headed wide from a Scott Murfin cross after five minutes.
At the other end Ender had to have his wits about him to take a free kick with Rob O’Toole rushing in and Chichester had Ben Pashley, who worked tirelessly, and captain Jack Lee to thank for clearing danger as the Tigers pressed.
A linesman’s flag baled Chi out when Lee’s back pass fell kindly to O’Toole.
The Saltdean striker then squandered an opportunity for the away side to take the lead, failing to control the ball when through on goal. Murfin then picked up the ball and put a teasing cross into the box which was fortunately deflected back to United’s keeper, Rikki Banks.
Playmakers Murfin and Dave Herbert posed a threat at times looking for Scott Jones and Wild, but in general much of the football in the first 45 wasn’t pretty.
Lucas Franzen Jones had an effort in the 37th minute that was wide of Ender’s post. Two minutes later the Chi No1 gathered well as the visitors whipped in another corner.
The home side mounted a spell of pressure just before the break. Charlie Williamson went on a determined run and picked out Herbert, but his shot was blocked. In the 44th minute Herbert set up Murfin who out-foxed the defender but just dragged his effort wide.
City broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval. Wild smashed in a loose ball after a quality delivery from Harry Williams for his third goal in three games since returning to the club.
Ruben French found Wild who touched the ball to Hegarty, with the box to box midfielder fizzing a shot straight to Banks’ hands.
Even though the home side were controlling possession, Saltdean had a golden chance on the hour mark to equalise from a set piece, only for the busy Wes Millis to head over from within the six-yard box.
Five minutes later Chi’s lead was doubled. Herbert crossed a ball to the back post, Jones headed it into the path of Wild, who stabbed it home much to the delight of the home fans.
City pushed for a third. Wild took the ball down nicely on his chest, passed to Murfin who moved it on to Herbert but there wasn’t enough on his flick to trouble Banks.
Hegarty was replaced by Alfie Lis for his debut.
Wild might have had another on 81 minutes but skewed his effort and either side of this O’Toole and Billy Barker should have done better to test Ender.
City boss Miles Rutherford brought Murfin and Herbert off with five minutes to go and introduced Haitham and Rob Hutchings.
In time added on Haitham latched on to a super pass from Hutchings after great work from Jones and slotted the ball into the left hand corner.
The hosts also had a couple of penalty appeals turned down late on.
Rutherford said: “It was a very good and important result. It keeps us up among the top four or five. We thought Saltdean were going to be one of the top two or three sides this year after we played them earlier this season.
“I think they were missing a few players perhaps, but we kept at our jobs. They’re a big, strong, aggressive side. They’re proper men. They’re one of the older sides in the league with experienced players.
“The first half we were very poor for 30 minutes and then looked dangerous in the last ten. We needed to get the ball forward quite early for our us to be effective. With the strike force we’ve got we need to get the ball into good areas to the front three or four players. We’ve got goals in us at the moment.
“We’ve got a very attack-minded side. If you score more than the other side then you’re winning games. And it’s entertaining. We’re also keeping clean sheets at times. We look good at times but haven’t played well in a whole game.
“Jimmy Wild is scoring goals. He might not be doing as much as I’d like him to be doing but Jimmy’s Jimmy. He’s a good player and he will score goals for you.
“We’ve got a run of games at home now and we need to be winning as many points as we can.”
Chichester: Ender, Williamson, French, Pashley, Lee, Williams, Herbert, Murfin, Jones, Wild, Hegarty. Subs: Peake, Hutchings, Martin, Lis, Haitham.
Chichester City 3 Crawley Down Gatwick 2
Jimmy Wild can’t stop scoring at the moment. The City striker hit another double against Crawley Down Gatwick, making it six goals in three games, after captain Jack Lee put the home side 1-0 up in a five-goal thriller.
Chi welcomed back Lorenzo Dolcetti and Kieran Hartley and manager Miles Rutherford gave Rob Hutchings a start.
It took City just three minutes to open the scoring. After Lorenzo Dolcetti was fouled, Ruben French whipped in a free kick that picked out Lee, and the charismatic centre half found the corner of the goal with a looping header.
The visitors were under constant pressure in this opening spell and had a high pressing game to contend with.
A deep corner in the fifth minute was headed back into the box by Dave Herbert but Seb Bos managed to deal with it. Then Bos had to palm away another delivery from the on-rushing Lee.
The home side continued to dominate the game. Herbert jinked past a couple of players on a run and with the referee rightly playing advantage stung the keeper’s gloves with a rasping shot. Next a great touch from Wild helped him bring the ball down neatly before blazing over the bar.
Moments later Wild did find the net after a super move by the home side. Herbert went on another mazy run, found Hutchings on the wing and the No7’s inch perfect cross allowed Wild to power his bullet header past Bos.
Hutchings next had a golden chance to put the game to bed within the first half hour after Scott Murfin sent him on his way only for Hutchings to hit his shot straight at Bos.
At the other end Mike Belli had the Anvils first opportunity but lifted his shot over. Lee Thomas then had a cross blocked by Ben Pashley before Ant Ender gathered his second attempt comfortably.
On 27 minutes French connected sweetly with an effort from distance that was narrowly wide.
Then a crazy couple of minutes saw two quick fire goals, one for each side. Crawley pulled one back against the run of play when Sam Packham slotted home from close range after a defensive mistake only for City to go straight down the other end and Wild smartly lobbed Bos, restoring their two-goal lead.
CDG got back into things from a free kick, with Packham’s centre half partner, Marc Pelling, heading the ball into the net to set up a tense second half.
Murfin had two chances before the break but both his efforts went wide of the post – the first a crisp header after Hutchings set him up; the second an effort that just drifted past the right stick after he latched on to a long kick from Ender.
The second half was something of a disappointment compared to the frenetic first half.
Wild saw his header go just wide of the post after Lorenzo Dolcetti, who shone all night, drew another free kick. Then a super turn from Herbert on the hour mark set him up for a shot but it was deflected for a corner.
Nick Sullivan almost got in for the visitors before Murfin drove just wide following another piece of skilful play by Dolcetti.
The game threatened to peter out, with a lot of scrappy battles in midfield, then Wild broke free again, only for a last-ditch tackle to deny him his deserved hat-trick. Minutes later Herbert flashed a ball across the box, however there were no Chi attackers in there to get on the end of his cross.
In what was a physical game, the visitors finished with 10 men, Williams Peauroux receiving a second yellow card after catching Pashley late, just minutes from the final whistle.
An impressive first half performance and a battling second half one earned Chichester the victory that moves them up to second in the league.
Chi entertain Littlehampton Town this Saturday at Oaklands Park, 3pm kick off.
Chichester: Ender, Hartley, French, Lee, Williams, Pashley, Hutchings, Dolcetti, Murfin, Herbert, Wild. Subs. Martin, Lis, Williamson, Peake, Haitham.