A hard-fought 4-0 win at Oaklands Park against plucky AFC Uckfield Town, who didn’t stop battling for 90 minutes, moved Chi City up into second in the SCFL premier table.
Uckfield, a team Miles Rutherford’s side found it difficult to get past on both occasions last season, started the brighter.
Matt Maclean almost got on the end of a cross whipped in from the left. Then the visitors forced a couple of corners with City struggling to clear.
Scott Jones and Josh Clack were involved in good link-up play at the other end and Uckfield keeper Louis Rogers had to be on his toes early in his debut to cut out a pass meant for Clack. Rogers’ counterpart Ant Ender had to rush off his goal line to make a timely interception.
After ten minutes or so Chi started to make things happen. Jones found Dan Hegarty with a precision pass the combative midfielder headed just over, before a Clack free-kick was flicked on to Harry Williams, who was offside. Rob Hutchings drifted past three defenders only to see his well-struck shot deflected for a corner.
See a picture gallery from the Chi City game and Sidlesham’s clash with Worthing Town, above
Hegarty set up Lorenzo Dolcetti but his effort went wide, Ellis Martin sent Jones away with a long ball that Hickman-Smith somehow managed to deal with, Hegarty knocked down a Dolcetti set piece invitingly for Clack who lifted his shot over the bar, and Jones fed Dolcetti but the Italian miscued.
The best chance came against the run of play in the 28th minute when City were caught out by a pass that got Bailo Camara in. The Uckers forward blazed over.
Jones made the visitors pay for this a minute later, lifting the ball over the keeper with a delicate chip that found its way in despite the efforts of defenders trying to get back to clear off the line.
The home side might have been two up within seconds but Dolcetti’s drive was blocked. Dean Stewart-Hunter caused panic in the City penalty box when a great run took him past a number of players.
Chi lost Dolcetti who appeared to have injured his back in a fall and Rutherford sent on Kaleem Haitham, who had scored a wonder goal against Newhaven in the cup last week.
Lee and Camara, who the ref had had words with several times, were both booked.
As the interval approached Hegarty headed a Clack corner narrowly over the woodwork and City did well to clear a free kick from Camara.
Uckfield forged the first chance after the break and it took a block by Lee and Martin to deny Stewart-Hunter and Camara.
A super move involving Haitham and Clack created an opportunity for Jones but the Chi No10 couldn’t get enough on the cross at the far post before, in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, the ball wouldn’t quite sit up for Hutchings.
On the hour Kieran Hartley picked out Jones, who teed up Hegarty but his shot was always rising.
The second came on 62 minutes after great work from Hegarty and fine control from Haitham before the City sub drilled the ball into the back of the net off the post.
Lee might have made it 3-0 five minutes later when he glanced a header goalwards from a Martin cross but Rogers gathered.
Jones got his second goal of the game and his 17th league goal of the season with a smart finish in the 82nd minute.
He might have had a hat-trick in time added on but headed wide before Clack redeemed himself for missing a golden opportunity with a fourth goal in five games in stoppage time.
City boss Rutherford said, “We’re in a good run. That’s three wins, three clean sheets and three games where our fans the Chi ultras have made a real difference. Let’s hope we can take this into the Peacehaven match.”
Chi are just three points off league leaders Haywards Heath.
They’ve played more than some of the other teams in the mix but with the way this season’s going so far there’s a premium on points on the board.
City next welcome third-placed Peacehaven & Telscombe to Oaklands Park on Saturday.
Chichester: Ender, Martin, Lee, Williams, Hartley, Hegarty, Pashley, Clack, Dolcetti, Hutchings, Jones. Subs: Kanjanda, Haitham, French.