Chichester had to settle for a point as a resilient Whitstable side scored late on to deny ten-man City back to back victories.
Reporter: Owen Leworthy
Lloyd Rowlatt gave Chi the lead in the 37th minute but Aaron Millbank’s equaliser with eight minutes to go meant the Oaklands Park outfit drew a fourth consecutive league game at home with Ryan Davidson seeing red in time added on.
Miles Rutherford & Co made two changes to the side that won away at VCD Athletic. Ryan Peake and Matt Axell came in for the suspended Rob Hutchings and unavailable Rory Biggs. Scott Jones returned to the squad on the bench alongside Corey Heath, Theo Bennetts and George Cody.
Chichester started brightly. A determined run from Gicu Iordache set the pace for the home side but the Oystermen did well to crowd him out. Josh Clack then won the hosts their first free kick of the game that Rowlatt floated to the back post only for Davidson to head wide.
Davidson next showed his aerial capabilities in the Chi box as he headed clear a dangerous ball from his opposite number Jake Mackenzie.
At the other end Kaleem Haitham slipped in Clack but Whitstable keeper Dan Eason was quick off his line to thwart the attack. Moments later, after a marauding run from Chi captain Connor Cody, Haitham again tried to tee up Clack. The No.9 went down when he was pulled back but the referee waved play on leaving the Chichester bench infuriated.
A couple of chances for Iordache came and went as the Romanian looked to add to his goal tally after scoring mid-week.
Cody tested Eason from distance. His low drive took a nick on the way through but the shot stopper was equal to the effort.
Eason was called on again and pulled off a spectacular save to tip Davidson’s header onto the bar.
However, there was nothing he could do when Rowlatt gave Chi a deserved lead before the break. Iordache crossed to find Rowlatt lurking and the man of the match drilled a composed low effort into the bottom corner.
The visitors almost levelled moments later after a long throw into the box picked out skipper Tom Bryant but his header clipped the upright.
The hosts, who’d dominated the first half, began the second one with some intensity.
Rowlatt had a fierce attempt hit a Whitstable arm which the ref didn’t spot, then tenacious play by Iordache led to a shot that gave Eason something to think about.
A lovely spin from Rowlatt ended with a drive which Eason gathered comfortably.
Davidson picked up the first yellow of the match for a late challenge before Whitstable’s Connor Sanders joined him in the notebook for dissent.
Sanders then forced Steve Mowthorpe into a fine save.
The Chi keeper was tested again from the resulting corner through substitute Liam Gillies whose long-range attempt was well held.
The hosts made their first change of the game with 20 minutes left as Jones replaced Iordache. And the striker was in the thick of things straight away having a goal-bound header cleared on the line.
Chichester were left to rue these missed opportunities when Millbank, after a lung busting run from Tijan Jadama, netted his tenth of the season with a deflected effort which looped over a helpless Mowthorpe.
The hosts then had another chance but a Whitstable defender was on hand to save his side when Haitham curled a shot that had the keeper beaten.
In the final minutes Chi were reduced to ten men after Davidson was dismissed and sub Marcus Elliott could have grabbed Whitstable all three points with practically the last kick of the game.
Chichester host Herne Bay this Tuesday 14th January (Kick off 7:45pm) and then welcome VCD Athletic to Oaklands Park on Saturday 18th January (Kick off 3pm).
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Davidson, Pashley, Axell, Connor Cody, Peake, Iordache, Horncastle, Clack, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs – (Bennetts, George Cody, Jones, Heath)