Chi crashed out the Buildbase FA Trophy following a disappointing display in Bedford that saw Southern League Barton Rovers run out comfortable winners.
Falling behind as early as the second minute they never recovered and an uncharacteristically poor defensively display helped the hosts score a further three without reply before Chi eventually rallied 15 minutes from time courtesy of a quick-fire double by Josh Clack, but it was too little too late and they now have to pick themselves up going into next week’s huge FA Cup tie at Bowers & Pitsea.
After making several changes in the midweek thrashing of Three Bridges, boss Miles Rutherford reverted back to more-or-less the same starting eleven that saw off Enfield Town a week previous. The only enforced change saw Ryan Peake come in at right back for the unavailable Ryan Davidson.
It was far from a repeat of the Enfield performance however with the tone set inside the first 120 seconds when Peake failed to clear and Nathan Tshikuna was allowed too much time on the edge of the box to curl the ball past Steven Mowthorpe.
The away side did have their moments going forward after falling behind though. Scott Jones and Kaleem Haitham both passed up presentable opportunities but the best chance fell to Connor Cody, who’s free header 6 yards out cannoned back off the post.
They were made to pay for those missed opportunities when a routine set piece at the other end wasn’t dealt with by Mowthorpe and defender Lewis Thomas powered the ball home to double the home side’s advantage.
Lloyd Rowlatt squandered a golden chance to half the deficit early in the second half, in on goal he lifted his effort over the on-rushing ‘keeper but wide of the post.
The usually reliable Mowthope’s day didn’t get much better shortly after when he spilled the ball and was unable to prevent Connor Vincent turning home the loose ball to put Rovers firmly in control of the tie.
Their passage to the first round proper was all but confirmed when they scored a fourth with 25 minutes still to play when Dean Dummett cut inside and beat Mowthorpe.
Rutherford withdrew Cody and Lloyd Rowlatt, possibly with half an eye on next week and introduced youngsters Dan Walster and Theo Bennetts, which seem to spark some life into the away side and they pulled one back on 75 minutes when Clack’s powerful drive found the bottom corner.
Hopes of an unlikely comeback were raised when from the restart Chi won the ball back and released Clack once again and he made no mistake to score his fifth goal of the week and make it 4-2.
They were unable to build on that though, Jones flashing a header wide was the best they could muster and in the final stages the home side squandered opportunities to inflict further damage to City on the break.
Chichester City: Mowthorpe; Peake, Hutchings, Cody (Walster, 70′), Heath; Axell, Horncastle (Dunn, 63′), Rowlatt (Bennetts, 70′); Haitham, Clack, Jones. Subs not used: Ender, Gurau.
Chi’s league fixture at Haywards Heath scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed to allow them to prepare for next week’s trip to Bowers and Pitsea in the fourth qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Spaces are still available for supporters wishing to travel to the game – information here.