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FA Cup heroes Chi back home

Chichester City are expecting a bumper crowd as the FA Cup history-makers return home for the first time since their second round place was confirmed.

 

In what has been a couple of weeks to remember for everyone at Oaklands Park, the fact that City are flying high in thei first ever season in step four seems to be overlooked.

 

Three months into the campaign and Chi are still unbeaten away from home in the Isthmian South East.

 

That run was continued last weekend when Chi returned from Hythe Town with a point after a battling 0-0 draw.

 

City, who are eighth in the standings with games in hand, will be expected to do better tomorrow when a big crowd is expected at Oaklands Park for a league match against Ashford United (3pm).

 

That will be followed by a trip to SCFL Division One side Shoreham in the Sussex Senior Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm).

 

As Chi boss Miles Rutherford told The Non League Paper,

 

“It’s a bubble we don’t want to burst.

 

“The biggest thing at the moment is trying to get the players back thinking about the league. It’s a hard thing to do.

 

“We have to focus on getting some results.”

 

Coming into the Hythe match Chichester had played more FA Cup games than league ones so far this season.

 

The trip to Kent was a third consecutive weekend on the road for the Sussex club whose recent travels had taken them to Bedfordshire to play Barton Rovers in the FA Trophy and Essex to face Bowers & Pitsea in the FA Cup’s last round of qualifying.

 

It was an away day Chi almost didn’t make after the players’ bus broke down en route.

 

Rutherford and his coaching team went with the same starting X1 that featured at Bowers.

 

Following a delayed kick off it was the hosts that created an early chance when James Rogers, Frannie Collin and the impressive Kiernan Hughes-Mason linked up.

 

Chi soon got into the match though and a timely interception by Ryan Davidson sent them on a counter attack six minutes in but Godman was down quickly to deny Josh Clack.

 

Davidson, at the back stick, got something on the resulting corner, although his downwards header bounced out for a goal kick.

 

Kaleem Haitham went close with two opportunities, one from distance, and then a stretching Lloyd Rowlatt couldn’t quite get to Hutchings’ cross from the left.

 

And on the stroke of half time Clack almost got on the end of Gicu’s delivery.

 

Into the second period and in tricky conditions the passing wasn’t always slick.

 

Gicu had an opportunity to pick out Haitham that he spurned.

 

Then the home keeper was off his line quickly to claim Gicu’s flick before Clack had a go after good work from the Romanian and Rowlatt.

 

A super pass from Rowlatt on the hour found an overlapping Hutchings on an overlap who pushed the ball on to Clack but the Chi Number 9’s drive lifted over the bar.

 

Haitham, the scorer of that fortuitous goal last time out in the FA Cup, stung Will Godman’s gloves in the 67th minute.

 

Scott Jones, who replaced Gicu, went close with a trademark header before Haitham forced a smart save out of Godman.

 

Ryan Peake, on for Corey Heath, did well to head clear a Hughes-Mason set-piece with five or so to go.

 

There were a couple of other scares for Chi in time added on and the visitors might have even grabbed all three points when Clack drilled an attempt narrowly wide and Jones was crowded out looking for a shot on the turn.

 

Chichester’s unbeaten record on the road though, in an exceptional start to life in Step 4, continues in to a third month.

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