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Chi take heart from crackers against leaders

Darin Killpartrick insists Chichester City are just going to “enjoy the ride” for the remainder of the season after two cracking clashes with leaders Ashford United.

 

Chichester won 3-2 in Kent last Saturday against an Ashford side reduced to ten men just before half-time.

 

There was no time to rest on their laurels, though, as the Nuts and Bolts returned to Oaklands Park on Tuesday evening and claimed a 3-2 win of their own to stay top of the pile from Hastings United.

 

Coach Killpartrick had told The Post the previous week the Saturday game would be used as a gauge of how far Chi had come since promotion.

 

And the home game and quick return certainly did do that.

 

Killpartrick said: “I can only describe them as two good, competitive games that any paying spectator would walk away from saying they had been great adverts for non-league.”

 

Chi came out on top in the first game after Lloyd Rowlatt blasted home an 87th-minute winner to stun the BetVictor leaders on their own patch.

 

Rowlatt picked the ball up just outside the box and took a touch before firing past the home keeper from 20 yards to sink the ten-man Nuts and Bolts.

 

Rob Hutchings had put Chi ahead from an acute angle after eight minutes.

 

But Tom Fagg headed home an equaliser from six yards before Ashford were reduced to ten men approaching the break when Mo Kamara saw red for a late challenge on Matt Axell.

 

George Purcell hooked home for the ten men on 50 minutes but Chi made their numerical advantage count with Ben Pashley levelling after the ball was laid to him before Rowlatt’s late strike.

 

The win was Chichester’s fourth on the bounce.

 

Ashford got their revenge on Tuesday under the lights with all the goals coming in the first half.

 

Purcell headed home an 11th-minute opener but Kaleem Haitham curled home a leveller within a minute for his first of the night.

 

Ashford replied when Adrian Stone headed home at the far post from a corner to make it three goals in four minutes.

 

Purcell’s powerful shot on the half-hour extended Ashford’s lead but Haitham pulled a goal back from the spot just before half-time when Axell was brought down.

 

Killpartrick said: “I was happy with the second-half performance on Tuesday. The way we played really affected them.

 

“They have got some good firepower up front and are very good going forward.

 

“We had a couple cleared off the line in the last minutes of the game when they were throwing their bodies on the line literally and that’s a sign of a team which will not lay down and will be up there all the way with Hastings.”

 

But asked where it leaves Chichester in the grand scheme of things, Killpartrick said: “It was a benchmark and it shows the philosophy of what we’re trying to do is important and that has been proven in both games against a top team.

 

“It shows what outcomes we can get and the players are really beginning to believe in it.

 

“It has given them confidence they can compete with one of the top teams and have nothing to fear. We are punching above our weight and we are going to enjoy the ride. We will play with no fear.”

 

Jordan Clack is now back from suspension.

 

Haywards Heath visit Oaklands Park on Tuesday.

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