Chichester City’s FA Cup adventure has certainly thrust the club into the spotlight. Their achievements in the competition have also been recognised by the Isthmian league, with qualifying round wins against Hartley Wintney in September, and Bowers & Pitsea in October, earning the Sussex side consecutive Performance of the Month awards.
For players, staff and supporters at the Oaklands Park outfit though the weekly grind against other teams in the south east division matters just as much and a point away at high flyers Sevenoaks in a very open game that either team might have won ensured Chichester are still unbeaten on the road after three months of Isthmian league life.
A home game against Ashford United and a short trip up the A27 to Shoreham in the County Cup fell foul of the weather in between this match with Sevenoaks and the goalless draw away to Hythe last time out.
Miles Rutherford & Co went with the same starting XI that featured against Hythe. A fit again Jimmy Wild joined fellow striker Scott Jones on the bench alongside George Cody, Emmett Dunn and Ryan Peake.
Third placed Sevenoaks came into the match as one of the form teams in the league and took the lead in the 15th minute thanks to a neat finish by Frankie Sawyer.
Sawyer had earlier attempted a spectacular overhead kick after a determined run from Fraser Walker.
Chances came and went for Chichester before conceding. Jamie Horncastle dragged an effort wide with barely two minutes on the clock following a flowing move involving Kaleem Haitham and Josh Clack.
Lloyd Rowlatt then had a shot deflected for the first corner of the game. Ryan Davidson got something on Matt Axell’s in-swinger. This was turned out for another corner that came to nothing before Haitham tested the hosts’ keeper Patrick Lee.
The visitors were awarded a penalty in the 18th minute. It was a soft one to be fair that incensed some the Sevenoaks dugout but Axell, whose spot kick put Chichester ahead against Bowers in the FA Cup, lifted this attempt over the bar.
Davidson and Rowlatt both had shots blocked in Chi’s next attacks before an unmarked Ben Gorham spurned a golden opportunity to double his side’s advantage.
Next Jack Miles did well to hold off Haitham as he sought to get to an intelligent through ball and moments later a Gicu Iordache drive ricocheted off a defender for a corner.
Chichester then struggled to clear Kyle de Silva’s set-piece with the ball sitting up kindly for Tyrell Richardson-Brown.
Haitham grabbed the equaliser five minutes before the break steering in a Clack cross from close range.
The home side forced three corners in as many minutes after the restart and should have scored when a short one to the impressive Alec Fiddes caught Chi napping.
Davidson went close on 55 minutes just before Haitham, who shone on a dreary day, put Chichester in front with a shot on the turn that went in off the post after neat build up play.
Sevenoaks would have bounced straight back had it not been for a super save from Steve Mowthorpe.
The Chichester keeper then pulled off another fine stop with his feet to deny de Silva and a swerving shot.
After two excellent saves a mistake from Mowthorpe gifted the hosts a second goal that Sawyer gratefully accepted.
Both sides made changes. Jones and Dunn came on for Gicu and Axell for the visitors and Louis Collins replaced Ainsley Everett.
It was end to end stuff now.
Bradley Schafer forced a smart save out of Mowthorpe and then Miles missed a sitter.
Lee punched a Connor Cody cross away and a quick break, so characteristic of Sevenoaks’ style, allowed Sawyer to get in once again only for the No10 to pass up the chance of a hattrick.
Lee then palmed clear and Jones sent a header inches wide of the right hand post before Haitham drove a shot just over.
Schafer, Richardson-Brown, Walker and Fiddes caused Chi trouble late on with Mowthorpe preventing sub Renford Tenyue a potential 90th minute winner.
And there was still time for the visitors to grab all the points. Clack, Jones and Wild, on for Horncastle, all went close in three minutes of added time.
Chi will be back in the media spotlight once more when the BBC broadcast the FA Cup second draw live from the Oaklands Park clubhouse at 7pm on Monday 11th November.
Chichester travel to Shoreham for the rearranged County Cup match on Wednesday 13th November (Kick Off 7:45pm) before a large crowd is anticipated at Oaklands Park on Saturday 16th November when Chi face Sittingbourne in their first home league game for two months (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Axell, Connor Cody, Heath, Clack, Horncastle, Iordache, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs – (Wild, Jones, Peake, Dunn, George Cody)