Seven goals and two red cards - but Chichester City claim dramatic win at Three Bridges - report and highlights

Kaleem Haitham’s injury-time strike gave Chichester all three points in a feisty seven-goal thriller at Three Bridges in which both sides were reduced to ten men for the last 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 12:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 12:38 pm
Chi City celebrate one of the four goals that gave them three points at Three Bridges / Picture: Neil Holmes

First-choice keeper Steve Mowthorpe was back in goal; Connor Cody, Rob Hutchings and Ben Pashley all returned to join Corey Heath in a more familiar looking defensive line up; and Lloyd Rowlatt and Haitham came back in to support Josh Clack and Gicu Iordache; with Matt Axell and Jamie Horncastle in their customary roles in midfield once again.

The hosts beat Chi in the reverse fixture at Oaklands Park in September, Tom Tolfrey’s penalty the only goal in a game the home side dominated.

Kieron Thorp was in inspired form on that occasion but the Bridges shot stopper was beaten just after the quarter-hour mark here when Haitham fed a super pass to Rowlatt. Tadley Bromage tried to get a tackle in but Rowlatt’s clever dink nicked off him and over the outstretched hand of Thorp.

Clack had a chance to double the lead when he latched on to a long goal kick but he slipped and couldn’t keep his attempt down. Tolfrey forced Mowthorpe into a smart save in the 30th minute before Charlie Towning, who came on for the injured Giani Ashley, fired off target.

Rowlatt, who was outstanding, dragged an effort wide and Axell had one blocked following a slick move involving Clack and Cody. City’s intensity dipped and the home side levelled. Pashley got something to a delivery from Lee Hall intended for Tolfrey but Ben Bacon beat Mowthorpe to the ball and guided it past him. An opportunity came for Horncastle but a bobble meant he lifted his attempt over.

Chi were caught out on the stroke of half-time when an upfield punt from Thorp dropped kindly to Tolfrey. The No9 turned the ball into Curtis Gayler’s path and he thumped it past Mowthorpe. Horncastle made it 2-2 in the 59th minute with a nice header but the hosts were back in front three minutes later.

Chi failed to clear an inswinging corner and conceded another after the ball pinged off several heads. This one was played short to Tolfrey who laid it back and when the cross came over, Bacon outjumped Axell and Heath to steer the ball home. Clack and Bromage mysteriously got their matching orders, another incident in a game with a number of talking points – the ‘pick your card’ tackle by Bacon on Axell after 12 minutes that somehow went unpunished being a standout one.

The introduction of Davidson as the visitors reshuffled the backline helped City while Three Bridges brought on former Chi player Tiago Andrade up top. Bacon almost got his hat-trick with an audacious lob but Mowthorpe pedalled back to tip over.

The Chi keeper played a part in his side’s third goal when he punched clear a corner to Rowlatt. He got forward quickly and found Iordache. The Romanian cut into the box and curled the ball into the bottom corner. Iordache drilled a shot wide and Heath tested Thorp from long distance.

The winner came in the first minute of stoppage time thanks to Haitham’s composed finish after a measured pass from Iordache. Towning might have grabbed a point for the hosts with the last kick of the game but his effort drifted wide.

Chichester travel to Guernsey on Saturday (2pm). The Channel Islanders are in good form at present having won their past three. Chichester:

Mowthorpe, C Cody, Hutchings, Axell, Heath, Pashley, Clack, Horncastle, Iordache, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs: Davidson, Dunn, Biggs, G Cody.