Chichester City still lead way after beating Crawley Down Gatwick

Second half goals from the returning Josh Clack, Matt Axell and substitute Sam Ndlovu were enough to see City ease past Crawley Down Gatwick.

It was the visitors who had the first sight of goal, with Russell Malton playing Michael Belli in, but Belli dragged his shot wide.

Chichester City players celebrate one of their second-half goals / Picture by Daniel Harker

Chichester City players celebrate one of their second-half goals / Picture by Daniel Harker

Clack’s cross tested the visitors’ goalkeeper Andrew Greaves, which Greaves spilled into the path of Gicu Iordache, who smashed his shot against the post.

Clack and Iordarche, who were threats throughout, both saw shots go wide before Rob Hutchings’ silky flick to Terrell Lewis, but the exciting full-back’s cross couldn’t find either Iordache or Kaleem Haitham.

The versatile Ellis Martin then put a delicious ball in from a free-kick, only for the determined Clack to head wide.

In a half of many chances, and as a result increasing frustration, Kieran Hartley had a shot from outside of the box which a nervy Greaves spilled - luckily for him, just wide.

There was time for one more chance before the break, with the tricky Haitham turning his defender inside out, only for Clack to head wide again.

City continued into the second half on the front foot, as Hutchings was the first to test Greaves, but the visiting keeper was equal to his effort.

Ten minutes into the second half, City opened the scoring. Iordache picked up the ball on the halfway line and used his pace to run through Crawley’s defence only to see his shot saved, but Clack was there to head the ball into an empty net in his first game back.

Clack returned the favour, setting up Iordache whose effort was saved on to the crossbar as City looked to get a quickfire second.

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Crawley could have levelled moments later. Malton fired a shot in from long distance, only to be denied by City’s shotstopper Matthews.

City doubled their lead in the 70th minute, after Axell turned and fired a powerful shot right into the top corner past a helpless Greaves.

Debutant, Greg Peel, came on for City and saw his first effort go over the bar after brilliant build-up play from Hutchings and Haitham.

Hartley rocketed an effort from long distance only to see it whistle inches wide, while Iordarche, who shone throughout and deserved a goal, was denied again by Greaves.

Crawley pushed for a goal through their substitute James Day, but Matthews held on for yet another clean sheet in what has been a superb start to the season for Chi’s number one.

There was time for City to grab a third late on as Ndlovu calmly slotted the ball home after questionable defending by the visitors.

City remain top of the league and are four points clear of second-placed Horsham YMCA. Chi host Steyning in the third round of the RUR Cup on Tuesday night and Windsor on Saturday in the FA Vase.