A huge weekend for Chichester City Football Club sees them host step 3 Enfield Town in third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
- Rowlatt (86')
‘Pack the Park’ has been the message from the club this week where there’s hope the locals will be out in force to witness Chi’s biggest match for years.
The club are enjoying its best run in the competition since the 2000 merger with Portfield and have already come through four ties to set up this tie.
The journey started nearly two months ago when Chi overcame Erith Town in the Extra Preliminary Round. A routine win over Bridon Ropes followed before a hard-fought victory over Chalfont St.Peter.
Chi got the better of step 3 opposition in the last round when they eventually overcame Hartley Wintney of the Southern League Premier Division South in a replay at Oaklands Park.
“It is a massive one for the club. Financially, it will help in big ways.”
Enfield look set to provide much sterner opposition however, currently sitting third in the Isthmian League Premier Division having lost just once in all competitions this season.
Of their four away games so far they’re unbeaten having won three and drawn once, on their last trip to Sussex, the opening day 1-1 draw at Lewes.
The Towners have competed at step 3 since their promotion from Division One North via the play-offs in 2012.
2016/17 was their best since, a fourth placed finish set up a play-off semi-final with Dulwich Hamlet. They went down 4-2 to a Hamlet side that eventually lost the final to Chi’s neighbours Bognor Regis Town.
After two successive midtable finishes it looks as though the team is equipped to fight for promotion once again following an excellent start the season.
They will however be without top scorer Muhammadu Faal who has eight goals already this season following his sending off in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Merstham.
The home side should have nothing to fear though who themselves have been enjoying a superb start to the season.
Despite the distraction of the FA Cup run they’ve adapted well to life in Isthmian League South East Division and last week won their first ever match in the FA Trophy.
That victory over Three Bridges was done without a host of regular first teamers, many of which Chi boss Miles Rutherford is hoping to welcome back to the squad this weekend.
Top scorer Scott Jones, Josh Clack, Jamie Horncastle and Rory Biggs should all be available again although Callum Overton and Jimmy Wild look set to continue to be absent.
There was one fresh injury concern for Rutherford as the influential Gicu Iordache limped off in the first half with a suspected hamstring injury with the winger now facing a battle to prove his fitness.
Speaking to the Chichester Observer Rutherford said: “We’ll be making sure the players don’t get carried away, because it is, at the end of the day, just another game of football”.
“But it is a massive one for the club. Financially, it will help in big ways. It’s something that the club could do with but we haven’t banked on a big run in the FA Cup or anything. It’s just a bonus at the minute.”
There will be an official replica of the FA Cup trophy available for photos at ground in return for donations to Football for Cancer.
The club has had an overwhelming response for mascots for the occasion, our thanks goes to the Youth section for providing them.
Kick-off at Oaklands Park is 3pm with admission prices £8 for adults, £4 for concessions, £1 for Students/16-18-years-olds, while under-16’s go free.
The matchday programme is available to download here.