Chichester so close against Crows, but it ends in heartbreak

CHICHESTER were moments away from gaining their first victory of the season in the John O’Hara Cup at Crowborough, only to concede two late goals to draw 3-3 then lose a penalty shootout 4-2.

The match started badly for City - immediately from the kick-off, Crowborough made a quick move down the right and Sam Carrington struck from six yards with only a few seconds on the clock.

But Chichester played themselves into contention. Crows’ keeper Ben Head was forced to make a great save one-on-one, and with the hosts unable to produce any fluid passing moves it was Chichester who appeared the more dangerous side.

Eight minutes after the interval, City were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box and Josh Case despatched the equaliser.

Chichester took the lead on 64 minutes with Joe Gromett taking advantage of confusion in the Crows’ defence, and four minutes later a poor pass from an opponent allowed Gromett to strike again and make it 3-1.

Crowborough were chasing the game and they were rewarded on 87 minutes when Scott Taylor’s corner was headed in by Carrington.

Sub Elliott Wood then fired over with the Crows going for broke, and in stoppage time Chris Ransome completed the last-gasp comeback after a smart move from a throw-in.

Extra-time failed to produce any goals and, despite being the first team to register a miss, Crowborough went on to win 4-2 on penalties.

Joint boss Neil Sherlock said: “Penalties are always a cruel way to end things, and when you lose by that method its always hard to accept. I felt we played well and got our game plan right.

“I felt we did against Selsey (in a 2-1 league defeat last week) as well. We are creating lots of chances and have scored four goals in the past two games, which is a positive thing, but we need to learn to convert more of our chances and kill games off early.

“Sean and I know our players very well - we know what they are capable of - and although their comitment and attitude is outstanding, they still haven’t found the quality I know they are capable of.

“For their hard work they deserve more than two draws and two losses in the league, but some results haven’t gone our way - that’s football.

“I tell them to keep believing in what we are doing and to be brave to keep wanting the ball and to play football, even when other teams just want to stop us. We must overcome everything thrown at us.

“It is a very good and exciting time for the club at the moment. The atmosphere around the place is buzzing and the crowd size is growing every week, which is very positive - it’s good to see the people of Chichester supporting and getting behind their club again.”

Fans have another chance to back City this Saturday when they host Cray Valley in the FA Vase.

City: Ender, F Smith, Madden, Heath, Hibbert, Case, Groom, Blatchford, Gromett, van Driel, Forry. Subs: Prior, Lambert, Manners.

CHESTER BROWTON