Desire - it's the key ingredient helping Chichester City make waves and headlines in the FA Cup. And it will be needed when they go to one of two Essex venues in the fourth and final qualifying round.
Chichester City’s reward for their latest FA Cup triumph is a trip to Bowers and Pitsea in the last stage of qualifying, with the winner earning a place in the first round proper of the world’s oldest knockout competition alongside clubs from League One and League Two.
Bowers and Pitsea ply their trade in the Isthmian premier division alongside the likes of Bognor, Worthing and Enfield, who Chi knocked out in a major cupset at the weekend. They are through after beating Canvey Island 5-3 on penalties at the end of a replay which finished 1-1.
Following Monday’s draw, Chi coach Danny Potter said: “We would have been delighted with a home tie but we’ll prepare as we have done so far in the competition to see what we can do to put ourselves in the hat for the next round. We’ve got a couple of big games between now and then and we’ll concentrate on putting in a good performance in all those matches.”
Speaking about the mood at the club after a memorable cup win at the weekend that attracted a record crowd to Oaklands Park, Potter said, “It’s just very positive, from the involvement of the supporters to the way a lot of people at the club behind the scenes came together for the occasion.
"All that was a huge advert for what we can do at this football club. And I think the players stood up and were counted on the pitch as well to highlight just how far we’ve come in the last two to three years to show that we’re now at a stage where we can be competitive and beat some very good sides.”
Chichester scored ten goals in two games in the preliminary stages of the cup. A 3-1 home win against Erith Town thanks to a Callum Overton double and a late one from fellow summer signing Jamie Horncastle was followed by an emphatic 7-2 victory away at south east London side Bridon Ropes when Overton was on target again and Scott Jones, Gicu Iordache and Kaleem Haitham all bagged braces.
Since then City have shut up shop in the competition overcoming Chalfont St Peter 2-0, with goals from Iordache and Emmett Dunn, before claiming step three scalps against Hartley Wintney, when a lone Horncastle strike in the replay at Oaklands Park saw Chichester progress after the game in North Hampshire finished 0-0, and another one in the club’s latest FA Cup heroics over high flying opponents as Lloyd Rowlatt’s late goal gave Chi a narrow 1-0 win on Saturday against visitors Enfield Town.
Potter was quick to applaud fellow coach Darin 'Dabba' Killpartrick, who joined the Oaklands Park staff before the start of pre-season, and his contribution to an historic FA Cup run in which Chichester have been resilient recently in keeping clean sheets.
“Dabba’s been fantastic for the club," Potter said. "He’s given us ideas. The players are responding to his demands and expectations, and it is working. We’ve got a very committed back line now that do not want to concede. There’s no secret in football about how you keep clean sheets, it’s all about the attitude of the players.”
Killpartrick added: “It’s a group thing. Everyone is pulling in the same direction here. There’s about 25 people that all really enjoy being with each other. Technically and tactically we do work with them, however, they’re the ones that are throwing themselves on the line. Emergency defending, last ditch tackles, defending from the front. We’ve got the team working in some sort of pressing way that we’d like them to do against certain teams and they respond to it.
“We just give them the ideas. They’re the responsive ones. They’re an incredible bunch of people that have the most desire I’ve seen in a team in a long time. Without desire it’s hard to defend and people in key positions are doing the things we’re asking them to do and when a team likes each other they’ll do anything to stop the ball going in that net.”
This history making Chichester side, the first one from the city to make it this far in the FA Cup in half a century, will be hoping for another clean sheet in the next round. Fixtures in the last round of qualifying in the competition are due to be played on the weekend of October 19/20.
Before then Chi have two more cup games to play - they visit Three Bridges for a Velocity Trophy tie this evening (Oct 8) then go to Barton Rovers in the FA Trophy - another competition in which they're making history, never having played in it before - this Saturday.