Turbulent year for Chichester City - but 2011 holds great hope

There’s been plenty of drama at Oaklands Way so far this season with Chichester City making national headlines, changing managers and incurring a points deduction from the league.

At the end of 2010, though, Adie Girdler’s side can reflect on a successful first half of the campaign.

They head into 2011 sitting fourth in the Sussex League division-one table, just eight points off the leaders Crawley Down.

Starting the season under new boss Mark Poulton, Chichester held Crawley Down to a 2-2 draw at home on the first day and had to wait for their fourth league game of the season for their first three-pointer.

Defeats in the FA Cup, the John O’Hara League Cup and the RUR Charity Cup followed, with Poulton’s controversial dismissal coming at the end of September.

In all competitions, Poulton led Chichester to five wins, two draws and six defeats in 13 games.

But Poulton was ousted via a telephone call during the second half of a cup game at Redhill in which Nathan Paxton was taken to hospital with a nasty facial injury.

City insisted they had not realised the game was still taking place when they called Poulton to tell him Adie Girdler was being reinstated as boss.

Poulton, for his part, moved on to become assistant manager at Horndean.

Girdler took over again and saw the side go unbeaten in his first three games back, recording wins over Three Bridges and Eastbourne.

He has strengthened his attacking options with the side scoring at least once in their past 14 games, and Joseph Briggs’ six goals seeing him close in on Graham Gillman’s mantle as the club’s top scorer.

The side’s disciplinary record has come under the microscope in 2010 with Girdler claiming he wants to make Oaklands Way a better place to watch football and reduce his side’s dissent and foul language which has contributed to a card count of 38 yellows and two reds. Now, with the cold weather claiming several recent fixtures, Girdler’s side can look at gaining revenge over Selsey after being defeated 4-3 at home earlier on in the year by Ian Martin’s side when they meet at the High Street Ground next Tuesday – which is the first game of 2011 for both teams.

After being deducted three points for fielding keeper Ben Hitchman when he was not registered, every win is now precious for Chichester.

Girdler has already identified Pagham as the team Chichester want to beat this season.

Despite their lofty league position, a title push does seem unlikely because of the number of games in hand other sides have.

The Selsey derby is followed up by a home game with Sidley and the re-arranged Sussex Senior Cup second-round replay at East Grinstead Town.

MARK ALLAWAY

n Pagham v Selsey report and pictures – see page 16