Cool-headed Chichester City bosses unfazed by ten-point lead at top of league

Chi City bosses Miles Rutherford and Graeme Gee reflected on their team’s big lead in the Southern Combination League – but insisted: We will not get carried away.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 8:00 am
Scott Jones watches his left-foot shot go in to complete a perfect hat-trick / Picture by Daniel Harker

The Oaklands Park side are ten points clear at the top of the premier division with six games remaining after beating Little Common 5-1 at home on Saturday. That made it five league wins in a row for Chi, who have lost only three games in the league this season.

It puts them in with a superb chance of the title – and with it, promotion to the Bostik south east division. Manager Rutherford said this season’s push for honours had been significantly boosted by having a bigger squad had made. But he and assistant boss Gee said they would not get carried away with their current league position, nor take anything for granted.

They face a tough trip to seventh-placed Lingfield on Saturday and still have to go to Shoreham, Arundel and Eastbourne Town before the season’s end, with home games to come against Langney and Pagham.

Scott Jones watches his left-foot shot go in to complete a perfect hat-trick / Picture by Daniel Harker

Rutherford said: “Over the season, without people like Dan Hegarty, Kieran Hartley and Scott Jones at times, and different players, we’ve been lucky having a bigger squad this year – that’s made a difference to us.

“We are not taking anything for granted. We have got some tough games ahead, including Lingfield on Saturday, and we’ll try to win as many points as we can, game by game.”

Gee added: “We’re happy at the minute. I’m not even going to fill you with cliches but we have looked at the fixtures to the end of the season. Our ambition at the start of the year was, like everyone else that enters the league, was to do as well as we could and look to build on what we did last season and see if we could go one better.”

A hat-trick from surfer Scott Jones helped the Lilywhites to victory on Saturday and both Rutherford and Gee spoke highly of the centre-forward’s influence.

Goals are a little common for JonesRutherford said: “I thought we played quite well in not the best conditions. Over the past three or four weeks, we have done okay.

“We have won games 1-0, but that was without a recognised centre-forward in Scott Jones, who has been away for three to four weeks. I’ve been very pleased with how we have gone without playing a centre-forward.

Who do Chi City and other Sussex sides face in promotion and relegation battles?“Obviously when he comes back, he makes a difference to us – we’ve got a recognised striker.”

Gee added: “The return of Scott Jones is always a plus where we’re concerned. He does have a fair bit of time off during the season for his surfing lifestyle. We know that at the beginning of every year when we sign him – that that’s what we’re in for.

“But when he is available, he’s a major asset to us at this level of football. He is obviously a plus point. And going forward, we’ve got a little bit of pace about us and we can hurt sides at any given moment.”

Defensively, City are comfortably the strongest side in the league with only 26 goals conceded – seven fewer than Newhaven, who have the next-best record.

Chi have brought in former Havant & Waterlooville goalkeeper Ryan Young. The 39-year-old appeared 11 times this season for the Hawks and City’s bosses say he is a vital recruit.

Gee said: “I think the signing of Ryan Young has added a little bit of what we were lacking. We’ve got a relatively inexperienced side, especially the chaps who play at the back.

“They are still learning and they can only benefit from Ryan Young’s experience. He’s been at the top level of the non-league circle. To get him on-board was a massive coup for the club.”

Rutherford added: “Ryan’s a presence in goal. He has got great respect from the lads in front of him and he does make people jump when he speaks, and sometimes you need that.

“You need someone who is commanding in goal and he’s done a job for us, and he’s a character with that.”