PAGHAM came out on top in Saturday’s derby at Chichester, with ex-City striker Scott Murfin bagging both the Lions’ goals to bring his tally for the season to 23.
Murfin opened his account under controversial circumstances in the seventh minute, slipping through when appearing to be offside while the City players stood still waiting for the linesman’s flag.
The lead was extended on 28 minutes when Pagham were awarded a penalty for a raised arm, Murfin successfully converting from the spot.
Chichester showed improved form after the break, Callum Cutler going close when he hit the post, but it wasn’t until late on that they managed to pull one back through Michael Turvey.
It left Chichester in their lowest league position since September and their hopes of a top-four finish look in jeopardy.
Girdler said: “Pagham were the better side in the first half and deserved to be 2-0 up. One of their goals was clearly offside which was a bit annoying. We all stopped, which we shouldn’t do – we should play to the whistle.
“In the second half I was pleased with our performance. We didn’t create many real clear cut chances but if we take that performance into future games we’ll be getting back to where we were before Christmas.”
Assistant boss Dave Kelly added: “The first half was dreadful. We just weren’t at the races and didn’t start playing until the second half.
“During half-time we got into the players and they came out and showed what we know they’re capable of. It was all Chichester, but we couldn’t find that equaliser.”
City are now among a pack of ten teams separated by just ten points, and their loss of form since Christmas has seen other teams around them catch up.
“We’re looking to get back in the top six – if we can finish top of the local sides then all well and good,” Girdler said.
“It’s been a bit of a transitional period for the club this season. We’re also bringing youth through, so hopefully that holds us in good stead for the future.”
With their next opponents another of those sides close by in the table - Redhill - Chichester have a second consecutive home match to get back on winning track.
Girdler rates recent signing Lee Mullins and striker Ben Vassallo as 60/40 to play on Saturday, but otherwise has a clean bill of health.
For Pagham, it was win number 15 of the season and the Nyetimber Lane outfit are just three points off top spot in the first division.
The win at Oaklands Way was a reverse of the scoreline seen when the two sides met in August.
The Lions next travel to the Colwell Ground to face 19th-placed St Francis Rangers.
And Stabler can call on two of the league’s top scorers in James Temple and Scott Murfin in his side, with Murfin’s brace against Chichester lifting him joint top of the scorers’ chhrt with Three Bridges’ Tom Lyons on 19 goals.
CHICHESTER: Hitchman, Harruna, Archer, Searle, Broadbent, Ford, Briggs, Cutler, Turvey, Vassallo, Brockway. Subs: Long, McCarthy.
Chichester City’s weather jinx struck again as fog caused their game with Arundel on Tuesday night to be called off.
The decision not long before kick-off to call off the game means a bigger fixture pile-up for them.
CHESTER BROWTON & MARK ALLAWAY