Saltdean condemned Chichester to their first SCFL defeat of the season
Chi boss Miles Rutherford made several changes to the side who beat Oakwood 5-0 in the RUR Cup. In came full-backs Ellis Martin and Terrell Lewis; with Lorenzo Dolcetti, Dave Herbert, Matt Axell and George Way all returning to midfield.
Striker Scott Jones, available after a three match ban, joined Rob Hutchings, Steve Herbert, Sam Ndlovu and Kaleem Haitham on the bench.
Saltdean had a dream start when Jamie Brotherton capitalised on a back pass to give the Tigers the lead.
It might have been 2-0 60 seconds later when City switched off and Josh Marshall got a shot away that Jordan Matthews did well to save. Brotherton flashed an effort just wide of an upright in the ninth minute.
A looping header from Herbert wasn’t far off as he got on the end of a cross from Kieran Hartley after a run through the middle from Dolcetti.
A free-kick from Way was just too long for Connor Cody before Lewis got into the box after Bailie Rogers slipped, only for his cross to be hooked away to safety.
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Herbert created two chances in two minutes – the first a shot on the turn and the second a fierce strike from long distance that tested Saltdean keeper Nathan Stroomberg.
On the stroke of half-time, Brotherton teed up Ben Bacon but the league’s joint top scorer couldn’t connect.
Rutherford introduced Jones and Haitham for Lewis and Herbert seven minutes into the second half as Chi went for it, and the two combined with Cody in a move that almost came off for the visitors.
Brotherton almost doubled the lead in a quick counter-attack before Jones crashed a header on to the bar. Saltdean sub Curt Gayler found the net, finishing clinically after a sharp pass from Bacon on 67 minutes.
Hutchings, who’d replaced Way, nearly pulled one back for Chi but Stroomberg got a glove on his shot and tipped the ball over the bar.
There were other chances for Chi with five minutes to go but a resilient Saltdean weren’t going to be broken down. Haitham went close following a clever corner and Tiago Andrade tried an acrobatic effort.
Horsham YMCA have knocked Chichester off the top and Lingfield are up next for Chi – at Oaklands Park on Saturday (3pm).
Chichester: Matthews, Lewis, Martin, Dolcetti, Cody, Pashley, Axell, Way, Andrade, D Herbert, Hartley. Subs: S Herbert, Hutchings, Ndlovu, Jones, Haitham.