Nyetimber Pirates’ West Sussex premier-division title charge gathered more momentum with a 2-0 win over fierce rivals Predators in front of a bumper crowd at Pirate Park.
The victory extended their lead at the top over Lavant to eight points.
Caretaker management trio Charlie Welling, Jamie Walter and the injured Andy Cox took the helm as they looked to bounce back from the disappointment of the SIC defeat to Sidlesham.
The return of Del Chester to the side was a massive boost for the Looters.
The match, in doubt all morning because of the frosty weather, was given the go-ahead by referee Chris Andrews an hour before kick-off, making it the only game in WSFL premier division to survive.
The history between the two sides meant form was always going to be irrelevant, and this showed early on as neither side looked comfortable on the half-frozen pitch.
The first half was dull and Predators, who put 11 men behind the ball, looked content trying to soak up the Pirates’ pressure, not really allowing them many clear- cut chances and restricting them to mainly long-range efforts.
The Tigers should have been one up not long after the break when the usually-reliable Michael Woolston found himself one on one with Warren Pye, but his effort was impressively saved by the legs of the stopper.
The deadlock was broken on 65 minutes when Louis Haga-Hammond’s free kick was met by former Tigers striker Karl Westbrook, who prodded the ball past Luke Munt.
Predators responded and were close to an equaliser moments later but a last-ditch tackle from Mike Hamm was followed by a goalmouth scramble which again stopped Woolston when he looked certain to score.
The win was secured from another set-piece on 80 minutes when Michael Frangou’s corner was turned via the shoulder of MoM Chester, giving him his fifth goal of the season.
The Looters had Preds on the ropes and should have grabbed two more in the dying minutes, but misses from Westbrook and substitute Anders Wyatt went begging.
Nyetimber have played two more games than second-placed Lavant who aren’t due to play another league game until the February 4.
Next up for the Pirates it’s league action again as third-placed Rogate visit Bognor Sports Club this Saturday (2pm).
Pirates: Pye, Williamson, Pasterfield, D Towers, Hamm, Urquhart, Haga- Hammond, Chester, S Towers, Westbrook, Frangou. Subs: Wyatt (70), Angell (80), Fallick, Horn, Linkhorn.
The Unicorn 6 Coal Exchange 0
West Sussex League division two south
The Thompson brothers proved lightning could strike twice when, for the second week in succession, all three found the back of the net for The Unicorn in a win over Coal Exchange in a top-of-the-table clash.
The first 20 minutes were cagey between the two top rated pub teams in West Sussex football, and although Coal Exchange enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, they found no way through the resolute back line of The Unicorn with Lee Beaver, Carl Thompson, James Waterhouse and Matt Porter standing firm.
Unicorn manager Jon Wickenden had Elliott Vickery in midfield and the youngster was superb in nullifying attacks by the home side.
The deadlock was broken on 22 minutes when Jamie Thompson rounded off a superb move involving MoM Shaun Jenkins to put The Unicorn one up.
It was 2-0 on 28 minutes when Carl Thompson finished with aplomb after more fine work by Jenkins.
For Coal Exchange Patrick Mattison’s goal-bound shot was scrambled away by full-back Lee Beaver.
Five minutes before the end of the half, Mark Thompson gave The Unicorn a three-goal cushion with another well-worked goal.
On the stroke of half-time, Jordan Thompson (no relation to the other three) provided an excellent fingertip save from a superb free-kick from Mattison.
The result was put beyond doubt on 60 minutes when Jamie Thompson added a fourth for The Unicorn with a superb solo run and finish.
The introduction of James Williams just after the hour added the much-needed boost of energy to the game and his hard work was rewarded with a fine double on 70 and 80 minutes, the second a contender for goal of the season.
The last chance fell to Coal Exchange but Jordan Thompson rounded off a superb performance with a one-handed save.
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