Goals from Scott Jones and Jamie Horncastle helped Chi to a second victory over VCD Athletic in less than a fortnight and a first win at home in the league since the end of August.
- Jones (27')
- Horncastle (75')
- Own Goal (')
Miles Rutherford, whose side have picked up more points on the road in their inaugural season at Step 4 than at Oaklands Park, made changes to the side that beat the Vickers 3-0 away. Captain Connor Cody moved to right back to cover for the suspended Ryan Davidson so Corey Heath and Ben Pashley could play in the centre, Matt Axell returned to midfield and Jones started up top.
The pitch passed an inspection in the morning but it was a very different surface to the slick one both teams played on when they met in Crayford.
And it was the visitors who adapted more comfortably to the heavy conditions in the opening exchanges.
Chi had a corner to defend after less than 30 seconds and George Monger, who scored in VCD’s defeat of Whyteleafe last time out, tested Steve Mowthorpe with an early free kick.
Top marksman Charlie MacDonald then might have capitalised on a lapse at the back but crashed his effort against Mowthorpe’s upright.
Cody managed to head clear a long throw by Jack Steventon under pressure from MacDonald before Vickers had appeals for an eighth minute penalty waved away by Mr Bartlett when Alastair Gordon’s shot hit Pashley somewhere.
City couldn’t get a foothold in the game.
Next, Gordon found Henry Ikeije who jinked past a couple of opponents and passed to Alex Gaggin. Gaggin’s cross was cut out and Pashley was on hand once again to snuff out the danger when Dominic Odusanya linked up with left back Raphe Brown.
There was a chance for Chi to take the lead against the run of play in the 14th minute as a super ping from Heath picked out Kaleem Haitham. Haitham’s first touch was excellent but he couldn’t open the scoring as he had in the previous match with VCD and lifted his attempt over.
Matt Axell, who was involved all over the park in one of his best games for Chi, got things going after a nice piece of skill. Haitham’s cross was just too long though for Lloyd Rowlatt.
Cody misplaced a delivery; Jones might have done better controlling the ball on his chest as Axell probed; and the home side gave away a careless set-piece on the edge of the box which Monger wasted.
Heath then did brilliantly to block when Gaggin threatened before MacDonald failed to direct his shot on target after Ikeije got in down the left.
Odusanya spurned an opportunity too and Cody read a pass smartly to break up another attack.
Jones should have given Chichester the lead with a 26th minute header but Nicky Blue, back between the sticks for Vickers, got his positioning right.
The striker did find the back of the net moments later however after the away team failed to clear Chi’s first corner of the match. Axell’s shot took a nick and there was Jones to grab a poacher’s goal of old.
The visitors pressed looking for a deserved equaliser.
Gordon had a go and then Horncastle headed clear a Monger free kick.
Monger, who caused constant problems, found MacDonald with an alternative set-piece as the back four went to sleep but Mowthorpe got his angles right to prevent MacDonald levelling.
Gordon could have/should have scored only to shoot tamely at Mowthorpe and at the other end Blue dived down low to his right to deny Axell following perseverance by Josh Clack.
Then Cody broke a tackle on a fine run but couldn’t find his centre forward.
Steventon picked up the game’s first yellow for a foul on Clack but redeemed himself to clear Axell’s attempt before Jones almost doubled the lead with a shot on the turn that Blue got behind.
Clack then sent over a cross which Blue gathered with Jones lurking and Clack was involved again when the hosts countered having cleared a Steventon long throw.
Jones and Clack were in the think of things once more in the first attack after the interval. However, Steventon managed to hold off Chi’s goalscorer following a smart through ball.
Blue collected a Rowlatt cross at the second attempt before Pashley put an end to a bit of Gaggin trickery.
Two chances came and went for the visitors either side of the hour when Monger shot high and wide and Gaggin, in the mix again, forced Mowthorpe into a decent save.
Axell then found Clack but the No7 was crowded out.
Chi were put under the cosh for a spell on 70 minutes.
Rob Hutchings did well to hook the ball clear; Pashley dealt with Steventon’s long throw once more; and Mowthopre got something on a well-struck free kick that his teammates smuggled to safety.
The hosts counter attacked and won a corner which Rowlatt whipped over. The ball came to Horncastle and he tucked away a sweet finish.
Rutherford & Co brought on Rory Biggs for Rowlatt as that edgy time approached.
The Oaklands Park faithful have seen their side concede late goals of late but had little to worry about in the last ten minutes here and Jones really could have wrapped it up with a second goal when he managed to beat the offside trap but not the keeper.
It was a precious three points for the hosts after drawing their previous four games at home in the league and a first ever Step 4 double for the club.
The win sends Chi up to thirteenth place in the South East division half way through the campaign, six points outside the play-off spots and with games in hand on teams ahead.
East Grinstead travel to Oaklands Park this Tuesday 21st January (Kick Off 7:45pm)
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Connor Cody, Hutchings, Axell, Heath, Pashley, Clack, Horncastle, Jones, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs – (Peake, Biggs, Dunn, Bennetts, George Cody)