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Chichester City 2-0 Phoenix Sports

Action from the Phoenix Sports match (Pictures: Neil Holmes)

An early goal from top scorer Callum Overton and another after the break by Emmett Dunn, who grabbed the extra time Sussex County Cup winner against Whitehawk midweek, extended Chichester’s unbeaten run in the league to four games.

There were two changes to the starting XI that faced Whitehawk, with skipper Jamie Horncastle dropping back from midfield to partner Ben Pashley in the absence of Connor Cody, and Ben Mendoza replacing Kaleem Haitham after the winger picked up an ankle injury on Tuesday evening.

U23s players Ollie Carroll, Jack Farrier and Morgan Mockford-Allott joined Haitham and Scott Jones in the dugout.

The teams last met in 2019 a week ahead of that historic second round ‘proper’ FA Cup game against Tranmere Rovers. Chi prevailed 3-2 against Phoenix on that occasion, but after two Covid curtailed seasons this one hasn’t started well for the Greater London club, with only one league win in thirteen coming in to this match.

Jamie O’Dell and his 30-odd strong stag party brought another dimension to an already lively Oaklands Park with the groom-to-be acting as mascot before kick off.

A minute’s applause was observed ahead of the referee’s whistle to mark the passing of Joe Laidlaw.

Sports keeper Steve Phillips was the first custodian called into action when he got out sharply in the first minute to hook Rob Hutchings’ through ball away, but there was nothing he could do moments later when Overton tucked away a super cross from youngster Ethan Prichard whose burst of pace had opened up the visitors back four.

Following a dream start Pashley then went on a lovely run through the centre of the park to find an overlapping Hutchings only for the No3’s delivery to be cleared.

Malik Morris and Alfie Evans next linked up with a smart one-two but Jono Martins struck his effort high and wide in a rare raid for the south east division basement club.

They might have equalised though with 11 minutes on the clock when Sam Ogunseye got in one on one with Kieran Magee. The Chi keeper had other ideas however and made a fantastic block and Byron Walker fired the follow up off target.

Lloyd Rowlatt, operating in pockets of space all game, picked out Prichard in Chi’s subsequent attack and after a nice twist and turn the tricky forward hit a shot into Phillips’ gloves.

Evans was then inches away from getting to Josh Dorling’s cross with a diving header before a raking cross-field pass by Tyrone Madhani nearly found Overton but Phillips intercepted.

Madhani and Hutchings combined down the left flank winning Chichester a set-piece in a dangerous area that Madhani whipped in for Overton to glance the wrong side of the post.

The ever-industrious Prichard delivered a couple of decent crosses around the mid-point as the hosts sought to extend their lead.

Overton and Dunn then hooked up but the final ball to Mendoza was over-hit.

Madhani was dispossessed in the middle and Dunn conceded a free kick which Madhani headed clear and then Ogunseye got in between Hutchings and Magee only for the Chi shot-stopper to claim easily enough.

Play was halted for some time as Martins received treatment but when things got underway again Prichard rinsed Lee Bird and cracked an effort that Phillips did well to get behind.

An intelligent touch by Prichard next found Dunn only for Sports defenders to steer the ball out for a throw-in before a creative passage of play between Mendoza, Madhani, Prichard and Davidson set Hutchings up for a volley on the swivel that lifted over the frame of the goal.

Dunn skewed an early attempt after the restart and Bird did Davidson only for Horncastle to make an outstanding sliding tackle to deny the visitors an opportunity.

Overton headed a Sports free kick clear moments later before Prichard tried his luck again at the other end but needed a better connection.

Ogunseye and Morris were involved in an attack which came to nothing following a mix-up between Dunn and Davidson and then Prichard wasn’t far away from reaching either Mendoza or Rowlatt with a delivery.

Persistence by Overton in a battle for the ball with Ben Fitchett earned Chi a 55th minute set-piece that Madhani whipped in for Dunn to double the advantage with a powerful header.

The Stag party and most of the crowd went nuts – it was only the second time in the last 11 matches that Chi had scored twice.

Fitchett defended effectively in the hosts’ next attack holding Mendoza off to win his side a goal kick and then Horncastle sprayed an inviting pass towards Overton only for Phillips to beat him to the ball.

A brilliant piece of skill from Overton allowed him to chest on to Prichard marauding down the right once again but his cross was diverted by a defender.

Chi pressed once more with Prichard and Davidson combining this time. The final ball was cleared only as far as Rowlatt who struck a venomous shot that fizzed inches over the bar.

Mendoza then had one charged down

It was all Chi now and Magee had little to do.

Pashley pinged a pass to Madhani that he couldn’t bring down and another one towards Prichard who was beaten to it by Phillips rushing off his line sharply.

Jones replaced Madhani for the last 10 minutes and was soon involved flicking on a trade mark header.

Prichard and Overton hooked up but the visitors’ back four dealt with the delivery.

At the other end the odd counter here and there fizzled out or Sports attackers were flagged offside.

Mockford-Allott got some minutes at the death and made a number of decent touches.

And Chi saw out the three minutes of time added on to pick up a fourth home win on the bounce in all competitions.

Chi welcome Hanwell Town to Oaklands Park on Tuesday 23rd November (Kick Off 7:45pm) in the Velocity Trophy before returning to league action away at Corinthian on Saturday 27th November (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Mendoza, Pashley, Rowlatt, Dunn, Overton, Madhani, Prichard. Subs: (Carroll, Monkford-Allott, Jones, Farrier, Haitham)