Chichester City’s FA Vase heroes have been challenged not to bask in the glory of reaching the last 32 – but to carry on making history.
They are in January’s fourth round after a come-from-behind third-round win at Newhaven (see match report below).
Now they can look forward to home advantage at the next stage and the possibility of reaching the last 16 of a competition that ends in a Wembley final.
Another two goals from Scott Jones and a goal by Josh Clack saw Miles Rutherford’s team win 3-1 at the home of the Dockers after recovering from going a goal down and having Chris Hooker sent off.
Western Premier League side Buckland Athletic – who won 3-0 at Horsham YMCA in Saturday’s third round – will visit Oaklands Park in round four on Saturday, January 7.
In the meantime Chi need to focus on other matters – chiefly their Southern Combination premier-division campaign and next Tuesday’s Sussex Senior Cup visit to Eastbourne Borough.
Boss Rutherford was delighted to see his troops get through another round of the Vase.
He told the Observer: “It was a good result. We did well considering a very slow start and having a man sent off.
“Newhaven were the better team for the first 20 minutes and went ahead, and it wasn’t looking too good. We hadn’t turned up. But we quickly got back in it and at 1-1, even after the red card, we looked pretty comfortable.
“We never looked in danger and, especially after they had a man ordered off as well, I always thought we could go on and win it.
“Scott and Josh took their goals well and we were well worth the win in the end.”
Rutherford said it was exciting to be in the last 32 – a later stage than he has got to before – but he said no-one in the camp was thinking about Wembley.
“It’s massive to have got this far but Wembley is a long way off and we’re not silly enough to think we are anywhere near it.
“The further you go in the Vase, the better the standard of teams left in – the northern sides are traditionally strong and we’ve not had to play any of them yet.
“But we’re pleased to have a home tie in the next round.
“Buckland are obviously a good side and I’ll be looking to find out a bit about them.
“They’ve played Newport IoW as well as Horsham YMCA so there are some local clubs we can get some information from.”
City earned another £975 for their third-round win, taking their earnings from the Vase run to £3,000.
If they beat Buckland they will net another £1,500.
Rutherford said: “I think everyone at the club is happy to get this far – and for the prestige, not just the money.
“We’d love to see a big crowd at Oaklands Park for the next round. Maybe a few local football fans who’ve not seen us play before might use it as an opportunity to come and check us out.”
First-team coach Danny Potter said: “The team spirit is sky high at the moment with all the lads loving the cup run in the Vase.
“This is the closest I’ve ever seen this squad in terms of cohesion and we’ll all work as hard as we can to keep this going.”
City are back on SCFL duty on Saturday at home to Littlehampton, then head to Eastbourne Borough on Tuesday.
Newhaven 1 Chichester City 3
FA Vase third round
Scott Jones netted another double as Chichester City won at Newhaven in an entertaining FA Vase tie which saw both teams reduced to ten men.
The visitors started slowly and went a goal down in the 13th minute from a Lee Robinson shot which took a horrible deflection off one of the Chichester defenders. A helpless Dave Hook in the City goal could do nothing as the ball looped over him into the net.
However, Chichester rallied, replying with a goal of their own in the 19th minute. After a quality defence-splitting pass from Ellis Martin, Jones composed himself to calmly tuck the ball away.
Moments later, Jones had another good chance, heading the ball over the bar after being challenged by Newhaven’s keeper. Newhaven came back with a chance which was headed just over after a great delivery from a free kick.
The game became a tense affair because of what was at stake – around £900 in prize money and a place in the last 32 of the cup.
This tension reached boiling point in the 36th minute when Chris Hooker went lunging in with two feet off the ground in a very strong tackle. The ref had no choice but to send him off and City were down to ten men.
Newhaven pressed but couldn’t capitalise on their one-man advantage. In the 55th minute, the home side were also reduced to ten men when one of their midfielders was sent off for a second booking after a late tackle.
Back to even numbers, Chichester took the driving seat and both Jack Lee and Dan Hegarty carved out good chances to score.
In the 74th minute Jones had a great opportunity but he put his shot into the side netting. But just three minutes later Jones did convert, slotting a crisp drive into the far corner.
With Newhaven pushing for the equaliser, Chichester put the game to bed in the 82nd minute. After a lay-off from Jones, who impressed all afternoon, wide man Josh Clack motored past defenders and calmly drilled the ball beyond the reach of the keeper.
There was still time for Hook to pull off a fantastic save in the 85th minute to deny the Dockers a chance of a dramatic ending. Bursting through on goal a Newhaven attacker got off a fierce effort but Hook put a strong right hand in the way, pulling off a stunning save.
City can now concentrate on their league and Sussex Senior Cup campaigns for a few weeks before hosting Buckland Athletic in round four at Oaklands Park on Saturday, January 7.
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