Chichester City put their Boxing Day 5-0 derby defeat to Pagham behind them with an impressive 4-1 win at Culver Road to ensure a top-four spot for Miles Rutherford's side going into the New Year.
Speaking before the game, the Chi boss said: “The Pagham game was very disappointing. We were as bad as I've seen us in all the time I've been at Chichester. Hopefully it's a one-off. I know it's hurting the players.
"The players know they've let themselves down. You have to take these things on the chin, look at what's happening around you and bounce back. Hopefully we can do that today and kick on again." And Rutherford got just the kind of response he was looking for.
A new look Chi were imperious in a first half performance that might have matched anything from them so far this season. Kaleem Haitham, David Borges, Luke Killner and Tafadzwa Kanjanda were given starts and Kieran Hartley returned after illness ruled him out the previous week.
Rutherford went with Scott Murfin up top on his own and rested Scott Jones. Skipper Jack Lee, facing another suspension, dropped to the bench to give the City manager an opportunity to try out a different back four ahead of the Vase match. Josh Clack got the captain's armband.
The 3G surface clearly suited certain players and the visitors moved the ball around nicely. Murfin, who'd fed off scraps against Pagham, put in a real shift for the team and had the game's first chance after only three minutes thanks to Dan Hegarty. Then Harry Williams was inches away from getting something on Clack's free-kick.
Murfin next picked out left back Kanjanda who gassed a couple of defenders before the ball was finally turned out for a corner that Williams was unfortunate not to make more of at the back post. In the 16th minute a super cross field pass from Williams found Hartley but Tyler D'Cruz managed to get a glove on Hartley's effort.
The Lancing keeper however, could do nothing with another fierce Hartley shot three minutes later that this time proved too hot to handle as the visitors took the lead their expansive football deserved. This advantage was doubled by Kaleem Haitham when he latched on to a Clack cross and tucked the ball away with a crisp finish.
At the other end Ant Ender denied Mark Goldson on 28 minutes as the Lancers looked to get back into the game before a great block from Williams rescued his side when the hosts got in down the left. Five minutes later it was 3-0 after D'Cruz flapped at a corner and man of the match Hegarty was on hand to turn the loose ball in past the despairing keeper. It was all Chi now in a scintillating spell just before the break.
Killner tried his luck from distance after being teed up by Borges. Then a Williams free-kick rattled the woodwork before the defender had the ball in the back of the net only for his header to be ruled out for an infringement. Seconds later Haitham cracked one that hit both posts and somehow didn't go in off D'Cruz. HT 0-3
The second half turned out to be a much more scrappy affair. Lancing started brightly enough and crosses from first Tom Watson and then Josh Clayman caused problems for the City defence. An explosive run from Haitham, who posed a threat all game, set up Borges but his shot was dealt with easily by D'Cruz.
Rob Hutchings, on for Clack, next had an effort charged down on the hour mark after a good touch from Murfin. Hegarty then tested D'Cruz before the host's No.1 pulled off a fine double save in a goal mouth scramble. Lancing got a lifeline with eight minutes to go when Lewis Finney rifled a Goldson free-kick in from outside the box. Moments later Ender had to deal with a dangerous cross from Watson again. Then in time added on City youngster Waledin Ahmed made it 4-1 with a goal on his debut after good work from Haitham.
Afterwards Rutherford said, “I'd love us to go on a little run now and pick up as many wins as we can. That's something that obviously goes without saying. We've got some big games in the New Year. We're hoping we can do well in the Vase game."
City travel to Horley Town for their 4th round FA Vase match next Saturday (January 6, (3pm).
Chichester – Ender, Hartley, Williams, French, Kanjanda, Clack, Hegarty, Borges, Killner, Haitham, Murfin. Subs. (Hutchings, Lee, Ahmed)