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Chichester City 1-0 Crowborough Athletic

Action from the RUR Cup tie with Crowborough (Pictures: Neil Holmes)

A Lloyd Rowlatt goal on the stroke of half time gave Chichester a narrow victory over Crowborough Athletic in this Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup tie at Oaklands Park.

Miles Rutherford & Co made five changes to the starting XI that faced Whitstable Town last time out with Callum Overton and Ethan Prichard dropping to the bench and U23s players Dan Wood and Jack Farrier coming in for rested left and right backs Rob Hutchings and Ryan Davidson.

Chi moved the ball around nicely in the opening five minutes.

Kaleem Haitham, who grabbed the winner at the weekend, had the first cross of the game but it was too strong for his teammates.

At the other end Lewis Hyde did well to get to a pass intended for Crows striker Elliott Duncan before silky skills from Tyrone Madhani saw him glide into the penalty area only to be upended – nothing doing according to the referee.

A minute later Haitham’s shot popped up awkwardly for the visitors’ keeper Martin Grant.

Regan Bowden then broke down the left flank and whipped in a decent cross that gave Grant’s counterpart Kieran Magee something to think about but the Chi No1 got a strong glove to the delivery.

Duncan, a thorn in Chi’s side for the first 15 or so, steered an effort wide from a corner 10 minutes in before Jacob Lambert’s shot on the turn was blocked.

Next Magee got behind a long-ranger by Ollie Styles and then Ben Pashley found Haitham whose cross was cleared easily enough by Crowborough defenders.

Duncan won a second corner for the away side off Pashley that Lambert played back to Dom Welsh who then guided the ball to Bowden in a training ground move for Josh Fermor to fire an attempt wide from some distance.

Chi weren’t far off a minute later when Scott Jones teed up Emmett Dunn for an attempt that fizzed inches the wrong side of the post.

Haitham then couldn’t find enough curl on another effort after impressive football from the hosts.

Jones and Crows captain Welsh were both booked in a scrappy spell at the midpoint before Farrier got in a great block to deny Lucas Murrain as the visitors pressed.

Duncan and Welsh then linked up effectively only for Styles to volley over.

Dunn opened up things in the middle of the park with a penetrating run and slid a pass to Madhani who was brought down. The Chi player, who equalised against Whitstable from set piece on Saturday, crashed his free kick into the wall this time and out for a corner.

Crowborough cleared it only as far as Madhani but Chi’s top scorer’s cross was gathered easily enough by Grant.

The two teams exchanged set pieces around the 40 minute mark with Dunn heading away Lambert’s one and Madhani firing into the wall again after Jones was bundled over in the counter attack.

The deadlock was broken by Rowlatt a minute before the break with what proved to be the decisive goal after good work down the right by Farrier.

A couple of chances for Chi to extend their lead over opponents who ply their trade in the Southern Counties East League premier division with the likes of Sheppey United and Deal and Erith Town who Chichester played in the preliminary qualifying round of the FA Cup in that memorable 2019 run came and went in stoppage time.

Ben Mendoza might have had a go himself rather than attempting a pass to Jones; Martin then punched away under pressure from attackers; just before Jones failed to get something on a right sided cross from point blank range.

And with the last move of the half Duncan outpaced Pashley but his fellow centre back Hyde turned the ball out for a corner which Wood headed firmly clear.

Chi restarted with some intricate passing and Farrier got down the right wing to win an early throw-in.

Madhani’s next ball for Rowlatt was too strong for the goal-scorer who was then pushed in the back for a free kick which came to nothing.

Madhani’s cross-cum-shot did little to trouble Grant and Haitham went close with an effort from practically the same spot he netted Saturday’s winner.

Eric-Georges Dellaud replaced Wood who limped off with an injury and hooked up with Rowlatt for Haitham to deliver a dangerous cross which was cleared.

Magee was called into action moments later with his first genuine save of the night to deny Murrain as the ball bounced into his path off a defender and then Bowden lifted an attempt just over the woodwork.

On the hour Farrier had a shot blocked following nice interplay between Mendoza and Haitham and Duncan cracked a set-piece under the Chi wall but Magee gathered comfortably.

Dellaud nearly found Jones with a lovely cross the City striker was inches away from getting a connection to and the No9 had another go that was deflected.

Martin was out swiftly to beat Mendoza to Haitham’s measured pass before Overton, who’d come on for Jones, latched on to an intelligent through ball only to drag his attempt across the goal.

The Chi sub then got on the end of Rowlatt’s cushioned header but struck a thunderous drive on to the stanchion.

Tenacious play from Overton teed up Haitham for a couple of shots that Crowborough defenders blocked and Hyde sent a header off target from a subsequent corner.

Dunn and Haitham then played a nice one-two with the Canadian’s cross along the goal line being hooked out for a corner kick. Madhani whipped this in but Hyde couldn’t get enough power on his downward header.

Morgan Mockford-Allott and Dellaud combined well with 15 minutes to go and Grant pulled off a spectacular reaction save to palm the ball round a post when it nicked off Bowden.

A clever back flick from Dunn gave Martin something else to think about as the corner came over who then calmly claimed a Haitham delivery.

Duncan was involved in a goalmouth scramble at the other end but his shot was blocked and Overton slipped when he got to an inviting through ball.

Mockford-Allott then laid off a nice pass to Overton whose attempt was smothered by Grant.

The hosts had defending to do in the six minutes of time added on but coped with two free kicks and had Magee to thank for a super save as he tipped a fierce shot over the bar late on.

So, Chichester’s busy November of midweek-weekend fixtures has started with two wins. Up next is an Isthmian south east game away at Sevenoaks on Saturday 13th November (Kick Off 3pm) before Whitehawk travel to Oaklands Park for a Sussex Senior Cup match on Tuesday 16th November (Kick Off 7:45pm).

Chichester – Magee, Farrier, Wood, Mendoza, Hyde, Pashley, Rowlatt, Dunn, Jones, Madhani, Haitham. Subs: (Prichard, Dellaud, Overton, Barry, Monkford-Allott)