Chichester City battled back from a scare to gain a valuable point from a 1-1 draw against Eastbourne United in a very entertaining match on a sunny afternoon. Then on Tuesday night, they earned a place in the last eight of the RUR Cup.
Max Howell’s strike seemed to have given the visitors a big win against a top-three team for the second time this season but Tafadzwa ‘Fuzz’ Kanjanda, introduced in an inspired second-half substitution by City boss from Miles Rutherford, levelled with just over ten minutes left.
It was Howell who had the first chance of the game in only the third minute when he pounced on a defensive mistake in the City back four only to guide his shot wide of Ant Ender’s goal.
Chichester’s leading scorer Scott Jones blazed his first effort of the game over the bar, while at the other end Howell fired off target again.
Paul Hawkins saved from Dave Herbert then denied Jones, before the Eastbourne defence rallied to cover their keeper’s tracks by clearing another attempt from Jones off the line.
An opener wouldn’t come for Rutherford’s team, who had beaten the other SCFL Eastbourne outfit, Eastbourne Town, the previous week.
They were made to pay when the deadlock was broken by the outstanding Howell on the half-hour, firing an effort past Ender from just outside the penalty box to the horror of the home fans.
Captain Jack Lee might have got City back in it but his effort was cut out. Moments later Jones was unfortunate to have a goal disallowed.
The forward then missed a great chance to equalise with a tame effort straight at Hawkins, who blocked with his legs.
United would have doubled their lead early in the second half but for a last-ditch tackle from Ben Pashley that thwarted Joel Kalambayi.
Lorenzo Dolcetti next went close with an impressive free kick.
The turning point came on 55 minutes as Rutherford brought on Fuzz. City pushed on and looked dangerous thanks largely to the energy that Fuzz introduced to the game.
An offside flag brought Herbert’s premature celebrations to an end before Rob Hutchings was denied by Hawkins after an impressive team move.
Herbert wasted another chance, firing over the bar from six yards after Dolcetti picked him out.
On 78 minutes the equaliser finally came. A quality pass from Ellis Martin was knocked down by Jones and Fuzz powered the ball into the bottom corner to the relief of the home side.
There was still time for one last flurry of chances in a very open game.
Dolcetti free-kick was gathered on the line by Hawkins. United countered and might have stolen all three points but Howell’s effort came back off Ender’s post.
In a frantic close Fuzz went up the other end and forced Hawkins into another top-drawer save before Ender was called on one more time in the last action of the game.
The draw ensures Chi’s unbeaten home record this season is preserved and takes them up to second place.
Next up for City is a Tuesday evening away match against Ringmer in the RUR Charity Cup and then it’s a trip to third-placed Haywards Heath on Saturday in the league.
Chichester: Ender, Watts, Martin, French, Lee, Pashley, Hutchings, Williams, Jones, Herbert, Dolcetti. Subs: Smith, Way, Clack, Kanjanda, Hathern.
Ringmer 2 Chichester City 3
RUR Cup R3
Skipper Dan Hegarty’s winner with 15 minutes to go earned Chi a place in the quarter-finals.
City boss Miles Rutherford made a number of changes to the side for the tie against division-one opponents, resting strikers Scott Jones and Dave Herbert.
Josh Clack, playing in an uncustomary role up top, put Chichester ahead midway through the first half. Latching on to a lovely pass from full-back Kieran Hartley, Clack twisted away from his marker and slotted the ball past Ringmer keeper Dan Hutchins.
The hosts had had squandered a couple of free headers before the opening goal when Josh Newman and Abu Touray should have done better.
There were chances for Chi to put the game out of sight. Lorenzo Dolcetti went close with an audacious overhead kick, Ben Pashley had a fierce drive palmed away by Hutchins, Tafadzwa Kanjanda pulled a shot wide and Clack might have done better with another opportunity or two.
The equaliser came seven minutes after the break when Touray got in behind the defence, beat Lewis Turnbull to the ball and directed it in.
Touray set up Newman for the home side’s second 60 seconds later – a nice left-foot strike into the corner.
Ruben French’s first goal of the season got Chi back into things in the 65th minute. Following a Clack free-kick French’s shot cannoned off the post and over despite a defender’s efforts to scramble the ball off the line.
There was a chance for Newman at the other end and Steve Jackson blasted an attempt over the bar before Hegarty’s powerful header from a Dolcetti corner earned the visitors a last-eight tie home to Horsham YMCA.
In a game that was competitive but never dirty there were two odd sendings off in the last five minutes when Ringmer had Shaun Skipper dismissed and French was shown a straight red for the visitors.
Chichester: Turnbull, Hartley, Williams, Martin, French, Pashley, Clack, Hegarty, Kanjanda, Haitham, Dolcetti. Subs: Barry, Murage, Ahmed, Vidler.