Chichester City win at Loxwood - and are close to being top of a goal league
Chichester City started 2019 as they ended 2018 - with a win over one of the SCFL premier division bottom three sides.
Dave Herbert, who scored twice off the bench when Chi beat Arundel 6-1 before the new year, came in for Scott Jones in an otherwise unchanged starting XI.
And it was Herbert who extended City’s lead this time out on the stroke of half-time after December player of the month Gicu Lordache put the visitors ahead.
Chichester have now scored 63 goals in 22 league games. Only Somerset based Bridgwater Town have bagged more in the country at football’s Step 5 level.
Miles Rutherford’s side have a habit of scoring against the teams in the league whose name begins with the letter L. So far this season Chichester have beaten Lingfield 7-0, Little Common 2-0, Lancing 4-1 and Langney 3-2. In the reverse fixture against Loxwood at Oaklands Park in September, City were 4-2 winners - although the visitors had set up a nervy last ten minutes with a goal late on before Herbert's 90th minute strike ensured the points.
The Magpies have struggled at home this season - their only league victories at Plaistow Road coming against fellow strugglers Arundel and Eastbourne United. And when Iordache put Chichester ahead just before the half-hour mark they faced an uphill challenge. As well as banging in the goals City have a mean defence that have kept 16 clean sheets in all competitions.
Things might have been different but for a couple of fine saves from Chi shot-stopper Jordan Matthews.
The win extends Chichester’s unbeaten run in the league to eight games. Coach Danny Potter said: “We were aware of the danger of playing a side whose form has improved since we last met. This is a side that has taken points off Pagham and Uckfield.
"The game started evenly, and neither team created much early on. Loxwood did open us up and Jordan made two very good saves - both typical stops from close range. After those scares we started to control the game.
"Gicu saw lots of the ball and was dangerous with it. He took his goal well. Kaleem also created a few chances for himself and others before he went on a mazy run, put two defenders on their backsides, squared the ball to Dave Herbert who finished calmly from the edge of the box for his third goal in two games.
"The second half saw fewer chances than the first. We introduced Matt Axell at the break and he pretty much pulled the strings from the middle of the pitch. Loxwood sent their centre back up front and started to go more direct, though Ben Pashley and Connor Cody defended well.
"I think the scoreline was fair. Credit to Loxwood for really giving it a go in the first half and trying to press from the front. They've got a great set up at Loxwood. If they show that determination and attitude in future fixtures, they will start to pick up some important points.
"We’ll lose Gicu now for three games after his red card late on. We’re pleased to be up there in the league, though we are well aware that there will be plenty of twists and turns as no game will be easy. Newhaven are the team in form at the moment and they are the ones to watch.”
Newhaven moved up into second place, five points behind City but with two games in hand whilst earlier pace-setters Horsham YMCA suffered a third loss in four games.
Chi travel to Eastbourne United on Saturday.
Chi City: Matthews, Hutchings, Peake, Biggs, Cody, Pashley, Clack, Edwards, Herbert, Lordache, Haitham. Subs: Williams, Axell, Jones, Lewis, Ndlovu