Horncastle was one of two changes to the starting line-up that drew 0-0 with Hartley Wintney at the weekend and the midfielder joined Lloyd Rowlatt and Matt Axell in the centre of the park. Chi, without strikers Scott Jones and Jimmy Wild, moved Josh Clack up top and Kaleem Haitham came in to offer width alongside Gicu Iordache on the other flank.
It was backs to the wall stuff at times and the visitors had the ball in the back of the net inside five minutes but it was chalked off for an infringement.
Before this Chi keeper Steve Mowthorpe did well to gather a cross from Tom Bird and his counterpart Luke Williams got a glove to an Iordache delivery intended for Horncastle at the far post.
Rowlatt then had a drive deflected for a corner that sat up for Connor Cody as Hartley sought to clear their lines but the Chi captain’s effort was blocked.
Next Haitham, who worked tirelessly all game, broke through one on one with Williams thanks to a super turn of pace only to steer his shot the wrong side of the post.
A dangerous cross from Rob Hutchings on 15 minutes was almost directed past Williams by one of his defenders and the Hartley shot-stopper did well to punch the resulting corner clear.
The visitors gave Mowthorpe and his back four something to think about with quick fire set-pieces before a lovely pass from Iordache picked out Haitham who flicked the ball on to Clack but Williams was quick off his line.
Corey Heath then sliced a Louie Paget cross out for a corner that Ty Smith whipped in to Shane Hollamby who couldn’t quite get a decent connection.
“Nights like tonight don’t come round often. Still buzzing. What a group we have.”
Corey Heath on Twitter
Matt Axell then almost got Iordache in eluding a couple of players and at the other end Heath, having his best game so far, made a smart interception to snuff out another attack.
Iordache fired a long range attempt over the bar before Rowlatt’s measured pass sent his teammate off jinking this way and that to try his luck again. The first attempt was blocked however, the second diverted for a corner.
Mickel Platt and Steven Duff posed a threat for the visitors but Mowthorpe was on hand again to collect and then Ty Smith and Bird were involved in a move that presented Duff with a half chance.
Clack, on the stroke of half time, raced away from his marker. The Chi No9 elected to shoot when he might have passed to Haitham who’d made a lung busting run.
The hosts struggled to get going after the restart and Hartley skipper Nathan Smart sent in a cross in the first attack after an exchange with Platt. This was smuggled away but only as far as Jack Ball whose effort did little to trouble Mowthorpe.
A superbly timed tackle by Heath, not for the last time, denied the visitors another opportunity before Chi went ahead against the run of play in the 50th minute.
Horncastle fed the ball to Iordache who crossed from the right and Horncastle beat Williams with a delightful touch to send the Oaklands Park faithful into raptures.
The joy might not have lasted long. Hartley thought they were level moments later but Platt’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Hollamby and Smith then combined and Smart had his cross cleared before Williams rushed out to beat Iordache to the ball after Clack had clipped it forward to the Romanian.
Horncastle spurned an opportunity on the hour mark to double the lead before Ryan Davidson headed clear after the visitors got down the right.
Both sides made changes. Rory Biggs came on for Horncastle in the middle and Dean Rule replaced Hollamby.
Two chances came and went for Hartley in as many minutes when the ball spun off Axell and just past the woodwork after he’d made an excellent tackle on Platt and then Ball went close with a header that went inches over.
Rule forced Mowthorpe into a save before the Chi keeper was made to work by Smart from a set-piece. The Hartley skipper then crashed a shot against the bar.
Mowthorpe, the busier of the two keepers now, came out to claim in the 71st minute before Smart wasn’t far off again with another attempt.
A brave block by Cody denied Platt and the visitors’ striker dragged one wide a minute or so later.
Ben Pashley came on for Axell with fifteen to go as the home side sought to protect their advantage.
Rule then struck a shot straight into Mowthorpe’s hands before Mowthorpe pulled off the save of the night in the 83rd minute getting down low to right to turn the ball round the post.
Clack might have sealed the win in a rare second half raid but Williams managed to tip away a shot that seemed destined for the bottom left hand corner.
Haitham fired high and wide and Hutchings had an effort charged down before Louie Paget blazed over at the death when he might have sent the tie into extra time.
After the match Heath posted on Twitter, “Nights like tonight don’t come round often. Still buzzing. What a group we have.”
It’s decades since Chi have made it to this stage of the world’s oldest knockout competition and the club are making history again this weekend when they feature in the FA Trophy for the first time ever as Three Bridges visit Oaklands Park (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Axell, Cody, Heath, Iordache, Horncastle, Clack, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs: Bennetts, Biggs, Pashley, Gurua