A late Josh Clack goal clinched a 2-1 victory at Broadbridge Heath and got Chichester back to winning ways.
Managers Miles Rutherford and Graeme Gee made changes to the side that lost midweek to Haywards Heath in the semi-final of the RUR Cup.
Back into the starting XI came leading scorer Scott Jones. Gicu Iordache returned after a three-game suspension with Dave Herbert at No10 once again. New signing Ryan Young made his debut in goal.
With both teams in good form in the league a close match looked on the cards. Heath, unbeaten in five, had kept four consecutive clean sheets through December and January and held league leaders Chichester to a 0-0 draw when the sides met at Oaklands Park in the reverse fixture early on in the season.
The opening chance of the match fell to Herbert with barely three minutes played but his effort was always rising. At the other end Ben Pashley did well to cut out a cross after a slick move involving Devon Fender, Jamie Taylor, Dean Wright and Martin Flack.
Young had his first save to make for his new club when he punched clear a long throw from Ryan Brackpool. This wouldn’t be the last time Brackpool gave Chi something to think about with this. Clack fired just over before George Cousins put the hosts in front after quarter an hour with his fourth goal in six games, getting in between both centre-halves and finishing nicely.
Super skill from Iordache set up a chance for the equaliser but Kieron Thorp made a fine save and cleared the resultant corner. Jones troubled Thorp with a shot on the turn the keeper gathered at the second attempt. Both sides forged other half chances which came to nothing and on the stroke of half time Young made an outstanding stop that kept City in it.
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Kaleem Haitham replaced Rory Biggs after the break as Chi chased the game. In a spell of pressure Clack almost picked out Jones; Iordache had a drive diverted following a great cross from Connor Cody; and Thorp got his body behind a Jones downwards header. There was nothing however the Bears keeper could do about Jones’ shot on the turn that whistled past him on 68 minutes to level the score at 1-1.
The hosts almost replied immediately but Chi defenders somehow scrambled the ball away. Next Iordache went close with an effort that seemed destined for the top corner and moments later a flick from Jones was turned out for a corner.
Clack, Iordache and Jones then all had shots blocked in a frantic spell before Clack’s bullet header decided things with five minutes to go.
The win and second-placed Newhaven’s draw at Little Common gives City a slender two points lead at the top of the SCFL premier division. Newhaven play their game in hand on Tuesday night at Uckfield.
Next up for Chi are East Preston, who travel to Oaklands Park this Saturday (3pm).
Chichester City: Young, Peake, Hutchings, Axell, Cody, Pashley, Clack, Biggs, Jones, Herbert, Iordache. Subs: Lewis, Edwards, Krumphoiz, Ndlovu, Haitham.