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Chi full of ‘character’

Graeme GEE saluted Chichester City’s character after they snatched a thrilling 4-3 win at Three Bridges.

 

Kaleem Haitham’s injury-time strike secured the victory as both sides finished with ten men.

 

Lloyd Rowlatt’s clever finish put Chi in front after 15 minutes but Bridges responded to take the lead.

 

Ben Bacon converted a Lee Hall delivery to level on 34 minutes and Curtis Gayler put Bridges in front just before half-time when he thumped home a Tom Tolfrey pass.

 

Jamie Horncastle headed Chi level after 59 minutes but three minutes later Bacon nodded home Bridges’ third.

 

A flare up close to the touchline resulted in Chi’s Josh Clack and Bridges’ Bromage seeing red but there was more drama to come.

 

Gicu Iordache curled in the 76th-minute equaliser and Haitham struck in the first minute of stoppage time.

 

Assistant manager Gee, with a touch of understatement, told The Post: “It was eventful!

 

“It was 95 minutes which had a bit of everything for those souls who braved the weather.

 

“Ultimately, it was very good character shown by our boys to get the win.”

 

He added: “We are very pleased as we wanted to go there and get three points just to stay in touch with the top-half of the table.

 

“There are lots of things we were not happy about, especially conceding three goals which is never good, but we kept plugging away.

 

“We looked more aggressive in the second half in our forward play and we got our just rewards in the end.

 

“Credit to everyone in the whole squad in the end who were involved.”

 

Despite the recent rain, the pitch played well but Gee admitted his side had to stand up and be counted.

 

He added: “It was a tough, physical encounter.

 

“They set up a certain way to nullify our threat and they were quite effective at what they did. We found it difficult, especially in the opening 45 minutes.

 

“Boss Miles Rutherford made a few tweaks to the shape and it worked out.”

 

Chi head to Guernsey tomorrow with an early start at Gatwick for the flight over and 2pm kick-off.

 

Guernsey are seventh in the BetVictor South East table and Chi 11th.

 

They regularly play in front of 700-plus gates but Gee is not concerned his players will feel the pressure after their experiences this term in the FA Cup.

 

He said: “It’s a really exciting game.

 

“We have been in some big games this season so it’s one I hope wouldn’t faze us too much.

 

“We had big games in the FA Cup and at Hastings so we’re really looking forward to it.

 

“It’s an arduous trek but everyone has to do it.”

 

Meanwhile, writes Ian Worden, Chichester City have won two awards that recognise the achievements of non-league clubs in the FA Cup.

 

Chi’s match at the weekend against Haywards Heath was called off but they did have something to celebrate when captain Connor Cody and teammates Corey Heath, Josh Clack and Emmett Dunn accepted two FACTAs on behalf of the club from David Bauckham who was short-listed for best non-league content creator at the Football Blogging Awards.

 

The FACTAs are the only awards dedicated to the FA Cup accomplishments of non-league clubs.

 

Chichester won the 2019-20 surprise of the FA Cup award for their remarkable run through six rounds of qualifying to become the first team for 70 years to progress to the second ‘proper’ round after beginning the competition in the extra-preliminary round.

 

They also polled the most votes for the special team award following their gesture to donate some of the FA Cup first round prize money to a future Bury FC phoenix club after receiving a unique first round bye.

Posted in Sport.