Chichester City warmed up for the big Boxing Day derby against Pagham with a dramatic win at Arundel – thanks to two goals from a former Lions legend.
Scott Murfin scored his first two goals for City since his return to the club after eight years at Pagham and he will be champing at the bit to take on his old team at Oaklands Park on December 26.
The derby will be a clash of two in-form teams and takes on special significance this season with the prospect of more SCFL premier high finishers than usual getting the chance for promotion to a newly-reorganised Bostik League.
A large crowd is expected to see City, who are just two points behind leaders Haywards Heath, take on Pagham, themselves only two points further back in sixth spot.
City skipper Jack Lee scored the late winner in Saturday’s 4-3 victory at Mill Road and said it was great to keep their recent run of form going ahead of the key festive period.
Murfin put Chi ahead from the spot before Jordan Dudas, Alex Biggs and Josh Biggs made it 3-1 to Arundel with 20 minutes to go.
Sub Kaleem Haitham gave Chi hope and Murfin’s second made it 3-3 before Lee converted a Josh Clack cross deep into injury time.
Lee said: “We went 1-0 up and I think we thought the game was won. We gave away a silly goal just before half-time.
“They came out fast and we didn’t get out of the changing room second half. And then I suppose the last ten minutes was when it all mattered.
“So we’re delighted, in a way. But we shouldn’t have made it that difficult. But it’s good to get the three points.
“To be honest I thought they deserved to win. We looked dead on our heels but Kaleem’s goal spurred us on. We dug in and they must have switched off the last five minutes. We’re delighted to get the three points in the end.”
Murfin was delighted to net his first goals since his return to City and said the title race was very open.
He said: “I didn’t think I’d be taking the penalty but Josh said I could have it. It’s got my confidence going.
“Obviously the second one was important to get us level. I would have backed myself to get the one I missed earlier when I clipped the bar. It’s good I put things right just after.
“We didn’t play well but we’ve dug in and it was a massive three points. We’ve just got to try to win as many games as possible now. “Hopefully other teams will slip up. All the lads dug in. We didn’t give up. It’s a good three points. And with Haywards Heath dropping points it means there’s probably five or six teams who if they put a good run together they could be title contenders.”
After Chi entertain Pagham in the Boxing Day derby at Oaklands Park (11am), City visit Lancing on Saturday, December 30, when Pagham host Loxwood.