Chichester keep top six in sights - but do it the hard way

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Chichester City 3 Redhill 2

Chichester City moved up the county league’s top flight with a win over Redhill that was perhaps more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

The visiting Reds were quickest out of the blocks, earning two corners in the opening five minutes. Marcus Elliot forced City keeper Ben Hitchman into a smart save from his bullet header.

Captain Jamie Ford pounced on a loose ball from inside his own half and showed great vision to send Michael Turvey en route to goal. Turvey showed nimble feet to round the keeper, but failed to maintain his composure as he shot wide.

City were attacking with real intent, their captain fantastic the source of nearly every attack.

On the half-hour, City manager Adie Girdler was left frustrated after his side had committed too many men forward and were caught short at the back.

Redhill’s Richard Whyte countered and used his pace to evade the clutches of James Archer before crossing for Elliot, who had the simplest of tap-ins.

Upbeat Chichester responded by snatching an equaliser just 70 seconds later after a combination of Michael Long and the slippery surface caused havoc for goalkeeper Chris May, who was left flapping after Adrian Brockway applied the finish from close-range.

City started the second half as they had ended the first – on the front foot - and had efforts thwarted by May, who produced an impressive double save from Ford to keep the score level.

In the 63rd minute, a long ball broke for the home side and hung in the air just a couple of yards short of the penalty area for what seemed eternity. May frantically came to clear it but was beaten to the ball by the head of Long, whose valiant effort gave his side the lead.

Ford was combining well with Callum Cutler to cause mayhem in midfield. Cutler crossed for his colleague, who diverted the ball home in the 66th minute - but the goal failed to stand after the referee’s assistant ruled Ford was offside.

Shortly after, Brockway and Ford combined for the skipper to seemingly wrap up the points.

Redhill substitute Lee Radford broke down the wing to release Elliot, who again had the simple task of scoring, setting up a tight finish.

City remained resilient at the back to deny their opponents any hope of a comeback and came away with a crucial three points.

Girdler said: “I’m happy with the win - we needed that. But we can’t ignore the fact we conceded two goals.

“I told the lads at half-time to get the ball down and to concentrate on passing and moving. That’s the only way we were going to win.”

Girdler is determined for Chichester to keep in touch with the six sides above them in division one - and says Saturday’s win is a big step towards that aim.

The win kept Chichester in seventh place and Girdler told the Observer it was good to get three points.

He said: “It was pleasing to show a bit of what we were about and carry on from our second-half performance against Pagham.

“All credit to the lads - they battled hard and got the win. We should have won by a lot more really but there you go.

“We’re not going to get carried away but we would like to go on a bit of a run and finish the season on a high point.

“We’ll just take it a game at a time and concentrate on getting another three points on Saturday against St Francis Rangers.”

Girdler has goalscorer Michael Long available for the game, and his performance pleased the boss, as did that of Shawn Benjamin, who appeared for the first time this season.

Ben Vassallo and Lee Mullen are unavailable and Rowan Wallis is suspended.

Saturday’s visit to St Francis’ Colwell Ground sees City take on a team who are 19th and were beaten 2-1 at Oaklands Way in November.

CHICHESTER: Hitchman, Archer, Searle, Broadbent, Benjamin, Ford, Briggs, Cutler, Turvey, Long, Brockway. Subs: Hurunah, Wiggins.

JACK PRESTON & MARK ALLAWAY