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Haywards Heath Town 1-0 Chichester City

A first half goal from former Chichester City player Josh Clack proved decisive in returning Haywards Heath to the top of the table in this derby clash at Hanbury Park.

Clack, who left Chi for Heath this summer, struck on the half hour mark with the kind of goal he’d regularly scored for Chichester over the years, cutting in from the right and unleashing an unstoppable shot that nestled into Kieran Magee’s top right hand corner.

The two sides had customarily faced each other in the county league until Heath were promoted to the Isthmian south east division as SCFL champions in 2018 before Chi achieved the same feat the following season.

Gicu Iordache bagged a hattrick in the encounter at Oaklands Park last year, one of only five leagues matches Miles Rutherford’s men fulfilled ahead of the campaign being curtailed due to Covid, but the Romanian was unavailable for this fixture along with strikers Scott Jones, Callum Overton and club captain Connor Cody.

Midfielder Lloyd returned after a three game absence and joined Ethan Prichard and U23s Oliver Barry, Nathan Spice and Ollie Carroll on the bench.

So, it was the same starting XI that battled hard against Cray Valley PM last time out and took a point off the south London based title challengers.

A minutes silence was observed before kick off with respect to the recent passing of Carly Dalton, wife of Chichester secretary Wayne Dalton.

Heath skipper Byron Napper had the first chance of the match skewing a long range effort wide in the opening minute before Davigildo Cravid linked up with left back Tom Cadman whose cross was too long for Jerson Dos Santos.

Lewis Hyde, Rob Hutchings, Tyrone Madhani and Kaleem Haitham were then involved in a slick counter attack only for the final ball, as would be a constant issue all game, to be over-hit.

Hyde next hooked away a dangerous delivery and a nice tackle by Ryan Davidson got his team on the break only for Madhani, joint top scorer with five goals in five of Chi’s previous eight games, electing to pass rather than shoot when clean through.

Davidson conceded a free kick a minute later for a foul on Jordy Ndozid which Napper took and the No4 followed this up with a pass towards his forwards that Ben Pashley managed to clear.

A burst of pace from Haitham got him past a couple of players only to be brought down by Ndozid and Madhani’s subsequent set-piece was rifled straight at Heath keeper Billy Collings.

At the mid-point a lovely ping from Sinn Christie was controlled brilliantly by Clack who moved the ball on to Hamish Morrison driving into the box but Chi defenders smuggled it away.

Pashley then had to be sharp to get to another pass ahead of Dos Santos and Davidson cleared a Clack cross.

Clack whipped in a couple of decent deliveries but Cravid was flagged offside on the second one.

The hosts made their pressure count some 30 minutes in when Clack picked up Cravid’s pass on the right flank, cut inside along the edge of the penalty area, and beat Magee with a telling effort the Chi keeper couldn’t get to.

Davidson broke down the wing from the restart and found Haitham whose cross was diverted for the visitors’ first corner. Hutchings sent this over and the ball was cleared to Ben Mendoza but his delivery nicked off a teammate and out for a goal kick.

Good defending from Hutchings snuffed out a Heath attack and the Chi left back hooked up with Haitham only for things to break down in the final third.

Dos Santos then impaired Magee as he dealt with a back pass and Cravid’s cross to an unmarked Morrison gave Chichester another scare.

Heath were moving the ball around pretty well now and the Chi back four had defending to do.

Man of the match Clack had a shot blocked after a Corey Heath slip and on the rare occasions the visitors got into the opposition’s half passes to both Mendoza and Emmett Dunn were inaccurate.

Rowlatt came on for Hyde at the break and in Chi’s first attack of the second period Hutchings’ cross was too strong for fellow players.

Morrison and Clack then combined with the No7 breaking through the middle but his pass to Cadman was similarly over-hit.

Next, Dos Santos fired an attempt straight at Magee after Cravid had out-paced Corey Heath.

A decent opportunity came and went for Christie who stabbed Kieran Rowe’s free-kick wide before Dos Santos got in only for Chi defenders to get the ball away.

Ndozid, Cravid and Cadman linked up in an intelligent move that Corey Heath put an end to before Magee made a fine save to deny Dos Santos.

Davidson then fouled Ndozid just outside the area and Cravid’s set play was finally cleared after a bit of pinball in the box.

A Cravid effort nicked off a defender but Magee got his angles right and palmed it away.

On the hour a lovely pass from Corey Heath found Madhani who moved the ball on to Mendoza but no one was able to get on his delivery.

Magee came out smartly to claim in front of Dos Santos on 62 minutes and Cravid’s effort sixty seconds later gave the Chi shot stopper little trouble.

Prichard replaced Madhani in the 64th minute and Magee was called into action once more when Cadman and Dos Santos exchanged passes to set up Cravid for a shot into Magee’s gloves.

Mr Hallam dismissed Heath penalty appeals after Rowe went down in the area before Jamie Horncastle flicked on a Davidson throw-in that Collings dealt with easily enough.

Dunn blocked Cravid’s effort impressively and a mazy Corey Heath run opened up the hosts’ midfield and then a nice piece of skill from Haitham won Chi a 77th minute corner which Mendoza whipped in to Horncastle at the far post.

Heath had the ball in the back of the net with 10 to go but it was chalked off for offside by the linesman’s flag and then should have doubled their lead but Dos Santos somehow lifted Cravid’s cross over from point-blank range.

Chichester wasted a short corner moments later and Magee lost out to Cravid who fired inches wide.

Second claims for a penalty were waved away in the second minute of time added on just before Haitham’s cross was tipped away for a corner which came to nothing in the last passage of play.

Chi, now winless in a run of five October games where they have faced the league’s top two sides away in the space of four days, welcome mid-table Hythe to Oaklands Park on Saturday 23rd October (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Heath, Pashley, Haitham, Dunn, Hyde, Madhani, Mendoza. Subs: (Prichard, Barry, Spice, Rowlatt, Carroll)