A heroic late goal by Ryan Peake rescued all three points for top of the table Chichester City, after what had been a hard fought match against a stubborn Uckfield side.
The game started brightly, with City counter-attacking from an Uckfield corner, where the visitors had an early penalty appeal waved away, as Josh Clack set up Gicu Lordarche, but the tricky winger fired his strike over.
Gianfranco Mici then delievered a dangerous cross into the box, but Ryan Welch’s header looped narrowly over the bar.
Terrell Lewis then took the visitors’ midfield out of the game with an inch perfect pass to Clack, who battled his way through two challenges, but was denied by a smart stop by Louis Rogers.
Moments later, Clack found himself one on one with Rogers again, being found this time by Kaleem Haitham, but the visiting keeper impressed and denied Chi’s number seven for a second time.
Uckfield caused problems througout, with both Bailo Camara and Dee Okouie threatening with strikes, with the latter claiming his shot hit a hand, but appeals were again waved away, much to Uckfield’s playmakers’ frustrations.
The referee, who was at the centre the majority of the game, then deemed a dangerous tackle by Matt MaClean to only have been a yellow, and then moments later waving a City appeal for a penalty after the ball seemed to be blocked by a hand after a Matt Axell strike.
Half time: City 0-0 Uckfield
The visitors came out fighting in the second half, with Okouie testing City’s number one, Ryan Young, after good foot work from the winger.
Matt Axell and Rob Hutchings both had efforts for the home side, with Axell’s deflecting into Roger’s hands and Hutchings’ whistling wide after he beat two men on a mazy run.
Hutchings, who continues to fill in at left back, was forced into a perfect last ditch tackle down the other end, after Okouie was through on goal, which was followed minutes later by a smart tackle by Lewis to deny Uckfield, who really gave it a go.
City pushed for a winner, and Clack dished out the perfect ball, but George Way’s header flew over the bar when he should have really scored.
In what was a feisty affair at times, Camara picked up his second yellow of the game for an off the ball incident, which reduced the visitors to 10 men and encouraged Chi further to push for the winner.
City did just that, and moments later there was a goal-mouth scramble, but both Dave Herbert and Gicu couldn’t get the ball into the net, leaving the home fans wondering if it wasn’t their day.
Subsitute Sammy Ndluvo took on and beat his defender and his cross was blocked for a corner, with a matter of moments left on the clock. Fellow substitute Ellis Martin swung the ball in, and there was Peake, who rose like a salmon and powered his header home to score the winner, much to the euphoria of the home fans and players alike.
The win means that City go nine points clear at the top, and even with Newhaven having a game in hand, it gives them some breathing space.
Chi next play Eastbourne United AFC next Saturday and the Countrywide Gas Stadium, with it being a 3pm kick off.