A hat-trick from skilful Italian midfielder Lorenzo Dolcetti got ten-man Chichester City’s SCFL premier run-in back on track in a 3-1 win at Horsham YMCA.
The visitors had skipper Ellis Martin sent-off for a second yellow and were a man short for the best part of an hour against spirited opposition.
Dolcetti and his team-mates put in a shift for the three points and manager Miles Rutherford was pleased to get back to winning ways after losing to a last-minute goal away to Peacehaven.
Rutherford said, “We weren’t really at it in that last game but we worked really hard for the win here. Lorenzo took his goals well but I’m pleased with the team performance.”
Dolcetti’s first involved a majestic touch and came barely five minutes into the game. Harry Williams picked out his team-mate with a nice pass the Italian took down on this chest at an angle, and that allowed him to guide the ball past Mark Fox in the Horsham goal before tucking it away with his right foot.
Four minutes later Dolcetti saw another effort skewed way off target. Then on 11 minutes Ben Pashley was sent away down the wing after a deft back-heel between Josh Clack and Keiran Hartley but when his cross came in Clack couldn’t keep the ball down.
Dave Hook in the City goal had to be alert after a Luke Gedling free-kick cannoned off several players in front of him.
Striker Phil Johnson’s pace was proving a handful and Johnson jinked his way past two defenders to the byline on the half-hour mark but the cut-back eluded his fellow striker Sam Schaaf.
A minute or so later Johnson was involved in what could have been the game’s turning point. Following a bit of trickery and a neat one-two with Dan Evans, Johnson was brought down. Referee Ian Homewood pointed to the spot and booked Martin for the challenge. The City captain then got a second yellow and his marching orders for a word too much.
Evans drilled the spot-kick into Hook’s bottom right-hand corner and Horsham were back on level terms.
The home side, with only one win in six, sensed a scalp. And with the benefit of an extra man and a bit of momentum, Horsham cranked up the pressure. Schaaf had their best effort five minutes before the interval but blasted over.
It wasn’t all Horsham however. Dolcetti tried his luck with two long-range shots and Ruben French headed a Clack corner narrowly over just on the half-time whistle.
Seven minutes into the second 45, Evans tested Hook with a speculative attempt after a poor clearance by the City keeper. The ball bounced up awkwardly off the hard surface but Hook managed to claw it over his bar. From the resultant corner Horsham went close with a header at the back stick.
Chichester’s Jamie Horncastle found himself unmarked in a similar position following a corner at the other end but he couldn’t direct his header on target either.
The visitors went ahead again in the 65th minute. The ball found its way to Dolcetti just inside the Horsham half after the ref quite rightly played an advantage. The Italian skipped past a couple of players before unleashing a left-foot drive that Fox couldn’t get to.
The home side rallied again and first Scott Buchanan and then Gedling went close. The visitors wouldn’t buckle and Dolcetti’s third gave them some breathing space with five minutes to go. After a mazy dribble in the box Clack fed Dolcetti who got a touch and the ball looped in agonizingly out of Fox’s reach.
Chichester coach Danny Potter said, “We’re all pleased for Lorenzo getting his hat-trick. The boys had to really dig in a player down. We showed the kind of character that’s kept us going this season. We’re guaranteed at least third in the league now but there still might be a few twists and turns yet with a handful of games to go in the run-in.”
Chichester are three points behind second-placed Haywards Heath, who beat Littlehampton. Chichester face Loxwood on Saturday at Oaklands Park and then it’s Pagham away in the Bank Holiday Monday fixture.
City: Hook, Williams, Lee, Martin, French, Pashley (Thoms), Hartley, Horncastle, Hooker, Dolcetti (Barry), Clack.
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