Loxwood 3, Chichester 3: Late City leveller earns deserved draw

County League Division 1: Loxwood v Crawley Down Gatwick. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150413-153835001
County League Division 1: Loxwood v Crawley Down Gatwick. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150413-153835001

Loxwood were pegged back by an 88th-minute equaliser to draw 3-3 as they looked set to clinch a unlikely victory after trailing 2-0 at home to Chichester on Tuesday night.

The dominant visitors led on 35 minutes thanks to a Dan Hegarty header and Ruben French penalty, but Loxwood pulled a goal back through Michael Wood and then levelled in first-half injury-time through a Chi own-goal after some suspect defending from set-pieces.

The Magpies did not take their good fortune of being on level terms for granted as, after a poor first 45 minutes, they came out far the better side after the break.

Charlie Pitcher’s 58th-minute rocket gave them the lead as it spun into the net after an initial save from Austin Holder, but City netted a deserved equaliser through Luke Kilner with two minutes left after great work by the impressive Jimmy Wild.

Chichester started much the brighter and within a minute Kilner had blazed over when well placed in the Loxwood box, while the dangerous Clack caused continuous problems down the right flank.

On 10 minutes, a Chi free-kick from just outside their own half was wastefully put over the bar by Hegarty, who had a towering free header.

Clack then out strengthened Sam Beard and his low cross saw Hegarty fire a first-time shot against the base of the post.

Pitcher was looking isolated up front for the home side, while City were cutting through the midfield or playing a continual diagonal ball out the Clack.

Darren Pearce’s side took a deserved lead on 29 minutes as Hegarty rose for a free header to nod home Ruben French’s corner at the far post.

Six minutes later, Eddie French was penalised for a barge on Wild in the area and Ruben French put away the penalty left footed into the bottom right.

Wood, however, pulled a goal back for Loxwood with four minutes of the half left as he slotted past Holden after City failed to clear their lines after a corner.

And in stoppage time, more poor defending cost City as Eddie French’s goalbound header pinged about in the six-yard box before Jack Bingham turned into his own net.

Chichester looked a shadow of their former selves in the second half, while Loxwood built on their improved final minutes of the first period.

They posed all the attacking threat without having too many efforts on target before Pitcher’s effort from 22 yards was pushed away by Holden, but the spin on the ball took it back towards goal and over the line.

The visitors looked unlikely to grab an equaliser as the half went on, but a moment of magic from Wild late on saw him jink into the box and tee-up Kilner, who fired through Smith.

Smith made a smart save in stoppage time - of which there was plenty after a head injury to Eddie French before the equaliser - to deny Wild, while at the other end, Holden managed to gather a low deflected shot from substitute Cecil Gee.

Loxwood: Smith, Courtney, French (Woon 80), Holvey, Beard, Wood, Simpson, Swaine, Scally, Ramsey, Pitcher (Gee 73). Unsused subs: Cave, Summerfield.

Chichester: Holden, Buckland (Williams 85), Smith, French, Bingham, Clack, Pearce, Kilner, Hartley, Hegerty (Manners 81), Wild. Unused subs: Wolfe, Atkinson, Ender.