East Grinstead 1 Chichester City 0
Isthmian south east
East Grinstead’s Merrick James-Lewis came off the bench to grab a late winner as Chichester suffered defeat in their first game of 2022.
Miles Rutherford’s side came into the match on the back of a decent run of form with six wins, three draws and one loss in the previous ten league encounters.
Connor Cody and Lewis Hyde replaced the absent Ryan Davidson and skipper Jamie Horncastle at right back and centre back respectively in a starting XI otherwise unchanged from the one that drew 0-0 with Lancing last time out.
Chi keeper Kieran Magee was called into action in the opening five minutes, punching away to Alex Battle whose shot on the swivel he comfortably claimed.
Captain Ben Pashley did well up against Omar Folkes but his pass to Emmett Dunn was cut out. Cody, Callum Overton and Ben Mendoza linked up only for an over-hit final ball towards Ethan Prichard to go out for a goal kick.
Richard Pingling probed down the left for the hosts but couldn’t get beyond Cody before a neat one-two between Mendoza and Kaleem Haitham earned the visitors the first corner. Lloyd Rowlatt’s delivery was cleared.
Haitham had a shot which Sam Freeman saved and Overton spurned the best opportunity so far, pulling an effort wide following good play from Rob Hutchings, Haitham and Rowlatt.
A diving header by Hyde averted the danger in a good spell for East Grinstead.
In the 21st minute Freeman palmed a fierce Haitham effort round the post.
Magee was out smartly to clear ahead of Battle following a through ball from Andrew Briggs.
Magee got behind Folkes’ shot when the striker cut inside following a neat combination between Battle and Briggs.
A clever Chi short corner might have been capitalised on but when Haitham put the ball back in no one was able to steer it home.
Hutchings’ long-ranger wasn’t far away with the last kick of the half.
A foul on Emmett Dunn led to a Chi set-piece which Mendoza thumped into Freeman’s midriff straight after the restart. Then Magee reacted quickly to Briggs’ downward header.
Referee Will Briers gave Dunn and Folkes a stern talking-to on 52 minutes and both players got away without a yellow card after a bit of handbags – before Briggs struck a low free-kick inches wide.
Mendoza brought a fine save out of Freeman then Tyrone Madhani was introduced for Haitham and was soon in the thick of things whipping a cross in that eluded teammates.
Folkes’ shot on the turn cannoned back off an upright on the hour mark.
Madhani walloped a shot into a defender just before Chichester made a double substitution with Scott Jones and Eric-Georges Dellaud coming on for Overton and Prichard.
East Grinstead also rang the changes as James-Lewis and Seidou Sanogo replaced Folkes and Miles Cornwell in the 72nd minute.
A super cross from Cody was inches away from Jones.
Briggs went into the notebook for failing to retreat 10 yards at a Chi free-kick and then Jones flashed a header just wide with 11 minutes left.
The hosts made their final change bringing on Szymon Kowalczyk for Battle and the East Grinstead substitute was instrumental in the move that led to the sole goal with James-Lewis drilling a shot past beyond Magee in the 82nd minute.
Chichester pressed for an equaliser and Pashley fizzed a fierce low cross over that no player could get a telling touch on. Dunn lifted an attempt over the bar following good work by Jones down the right and Hutchings sent in a delivery which came to nothing deep into time added on.
So Chi dropped points away to one of the bottom three teams for the second match in a row on a day when only one of the top five sides recorded a win.
Rutherford’s men welcome third-placed Herne Bay to Oaklands on Saturday.
Lewes 2 Rocks 0
Charlie Bell was sent off as Bognor slipped to their second Sussex derby defeat of the festive season.
Midfielder Beill saw red for his second bookable offence in a game in which Bognor had only two clear chances to get their travelling fans excited.
A shuffle in the starting line-up saw Nathan Odokonyero return from illness and James Crane back after a neck strain. Ashton Leigh was replaced by Harrison Brook to switch up the attack.
The Rooks’ Razz Coleman De-Graft was set through early on but his cut-back to Taylor Maloney saw him divert his strike over the bar.
Bognor sprang on the attack with Dan Gifford teeing up Jordy Mongoy, but he was blocked.
The danger man for Lewes, 18-goal Joe Taylor, turned neatly before chipping the ball over the defence but Amadou Tangara in the Bognor goal gathered.
A long ball forward by Mitchell Nelson saw Taylor control it before passingto Maloney who ran around Tangara but stroked it wide.
Iffy Allen fired an attempt over the bar from just inside the area. Ethan Robb’s long drifting free-kick picked out Craig Robson who knocked a header towards goal but it was saved by Lewis Carey.
A short Bognor pass out of defence was feeble and latched on to on the edge of the box by Maloney, who ran on before squaring it to De-Graft, who turned instantly before smashing it narrowly over the crossbar.
Robb looped a header high over the crossbar while Will Salmon nodded over for the hosts straight from Maloney’s corner.
Bell slid in on Juevan Spencer but despite getting the ball he was shown a yellow card.
Odonkonyero curled an attempt at goal but a fingertip save from Carey denied him. Bell and Odokonyero both had efforts at goal.
Bognor went behind just before half-time. De-Graft beat the Rocks defence before cutting inside on his left foot and letting fly with a curling strike from outside the box that Tangara could only watch.
Leigh replaced Crane after the break for Bognor.
Michael Klass headed over a Maloney corner before De-Graft smashed another chance at goal. Tangara was equal to it, and Maloney sliced the follow-up wide.
Bell’s sliding challenge on De-Graft was penalised and the referee sent the midfielder off for his second bookable offence. Maloney curled his free-kick high over the goal.
Kayne Diedrick-Roberts replaced Brook on 66 minutes.
Mongoy and Odokonyero teed up Diedrick-Roberts but his long range effort cannoned off the crossbar on 70 minutes.
Lewes sub Freddie Parker had a go from 25 yards but it was high and wide.
With 90 minutes up the Rocks; fate was sealed when Dandy was deemed to have brought down Taylor on the turn for a soft penalty. Taylor made no mistake from the spot, sending Tangara the wrong way.
Dorking Reserves 1 Midhurst 2
SCFL division one
The Stags returned home with an important three points – and top spot – after a fine win over fourth-placed Wanderers.
The opening goal arrived in the 23rd minute with Stags moving the ball out from the back and eventually finding Kieran Carter. He played a first-time cross into Marcus Bedford, who took a neat touch away from the defender and smashed past Josh Wilson in the Wanderers goal.
Wanderers perked up and when Conan Torpey got free, Josh Bird made a good stop.
Bird was sweeping well in behind the Stags back-line who were defending well.
Wanderers levelled on stroke of half-time when Torpey got through and squared to Nabeel Ghannam, who easily beat Bird.
Midhurst appealed for offside but the officials had none of it.
In the second half the Stags had the best chances, Wilson making three good saves.
Harry Tremlett got free and Wilson got down well at his near post to tip it around for a corner.
For Dorking, Leonard Viltor got free down the Wanderers right and his cross was well cleared by the Stags back line.
Marcus Bedford forced Wilson into a good save – a clearance fell to the striker on edge of the area and his volley was destined for the bottom corner and with Wilson getting down well to his right, the rebound fell to Robbie Tambling and his effort was deflected on to the bar.
Oli Kershaw crossed for Carter, whose header was heading into the bottom corner but Wilson got down brilliantly to tip i taround the post.
Stags eventually beat Wilson in the 80th minute – Bedford found space and played a great ball into the box which was headed away and Carter volleyed home.
Wanderers had a chance in the last minute but Bird stood firm.
Stags boss Andy Ewen said: “That’s more like it. Dorking are a good side especially at home but we had the fight and grit that we’ve been missing.
“We need to now make sure we have that for remaining games. The decision on stroke half-time frustrated the lads, but once we calmed them down and gave them few instructions they applied them and we were good value for the win.
“It means nothing if we don’t back this up – we need to build some momentum.”
* Elsewhere, Pagham lost 1-0 at home to Steyning in the SCFL premier while Bosham beat Littlehampton United 4-2 in division two. Selsey's planned visit to Roffey was rained off.