Chichester City: We’re out to go one better in the Vase

Action from the Whitstable-Chi City tie as Josh Clack goes on the attack / Picture by KM Group
Action from the Whitstable-Chi City tie as Josh Clack goes on the attack / Picture by KM Group

Chichester City reflected on another venture into the FA Vase last 32 – and stated their desire to go at least one better than last year.

Miles Rutherford’s team find themselves four games from the Wembley final for the second year in a row, but went out at this stage last year at home to Buckland.

This time they’ll visit Combined Counties League premier-division side Horley Town in the Jaunary 6 fourth round aiming to prolong the adventure.

The Vase run has been simpler this year – last year’s heroics meant they got a bye to this season’s second round. They beat Deal in round two and on Saturday triumphed 2-0 at Whitstable in the third round.

It comes during what is turning into another fine season for the men from Oaklands Park. They’re second in the Southern Combination premier division and have high hopes of promotion to a reorganised Bostik League for next year.

Rutherford said it was great to be enjoying another dose of Vase success.

“We’re in the last 32 again but this time it would be nice to get into the last 16,” he said. “Last season we were beaten by the better side on the day and you don’t mind going out of the competition in thiose circumstances. But you don’t want to go out to a team you feel you can beat.”

Rutherford admitted he did not know a lot about Horley – whose league is at the same level as City’s – but said he and his staff would aim to watch them before the Vase date.

“They’ve played Baffins Milton Rovers, who are based in Portsmouth, where I am, so I can probably pick up some pointers. I’m sure they’re a good side and it should be a well-matched game.”

Assistant boss Graeme Gee said: “Players will get maybe 15 attempts at the Vase in their career but very few will get to a final. But we’re in the last 32 with a good set of lads who we have greath faith in. If we turn up on the day and concentrate on the task, we have a good chance.”

City skipper Jack Lee is equally delighted to have got over another hurdle in the national competition, earning the club a £1,125 bonus in the process.

He said: “We’re on a high. It (the win at Whitstable) was brilliant. There’s always a bit of a fear when you come all this way – you don’t want to make it a wasted journey. But we got a great start.

“We got two good goals and sat deep. We were hanging on and defending for our lives at times. We’ve kept five clean sheets in a row now. We couldn’t keep a clean sheet for love nor money at the beginning of the season. We’re getting more protection now.

“We’ll approach the next round in the right way. We did that last year when we played Buckland in the fourth round. On the day, though, they were the better side and we got outplayed. I’m looking forward to it.”

Chi are back in league action at home to Broadbridge Heath this Saturday, December 9, and Rutherford said they’d need to forget about the Vase tie and concentrate on the next few SCFL matches.

“It’s a tight league this year,” the manager said. “Haywards Heath are favourites but there are a lot of teams close behind and we’re one of them. The Vase is great to be in for the players and the club but the league is the important thing.

“We believe the top two will go up to the Bostik at the end of the season and possibly more. But for now we just need to keep getting results.”

STEVE BONE