Last season Chichester went on an extraordinary history making run in the world’s oldest knock-out competition as the Sussex side advanced though six rounds of qualifying, beating three clubs from the step above, before getting a unique bye into the second round ‘proper’ of the cup to face League One opponents Tranmere Rovers up at Prenton Park.
This season’s competition however looked to be over for Chi at the first hurdle when they found themselves 2-0 down in the first half and reduced to ten men after full back Rob Hutchings was sent off for a deliberate handball as he instinctively tried to prevent a certain goal.
But the team had other ideas and got back in the game just before the break thanks to summer signing Ryan Penny.
Josh Clack then equalised after the interval to set up a tense penalty shoot out in which keeper Steve Mowthorpe made two saves and Matt Axell scored the final spot kick to make it 3-1 to the visitors.
A somewhat depleted Chichester side without club captain Connor Cody, regular right back Ryan Davidson, winger Kaleem Haitham, utility player Gicu Iordache and striker Callum Overton started brightly enough.
Penny forced a save out of keeper Julian Schwarzer in the third minute and then Scott Jones headed wide an Axell corner moments later.
The Basingstoke No.1 was called into action again to punch another corner clear and at the other end Mowthorpe got off his line quickly to beat George Reid to the loose ball.
A super piece of pace from City wonder-kid Ethan Prichard drew a foul from one of the hosts’ defenders but Clack thundered his set-piece over the bar.
Both sides probed in the opening 15 minutes and Ben Cook forced Mowthorpe into his first stop of the night after good work from Reid.
Reid caused Emmett Dunn some problems jinking this way and that but Corey Heath got in a strong challenge to turn the ball out for a throw-in.
The home side spurned another chance when Chi’s back four managed to smuggle the ball away as Harrison Cliff threatened.
It was end to end stuff and Schwarzer did well to gather a low shot from Penny in the 24th minute just before Bradley Wilson forged an opportunity for Basingstoke.
Wilson, who shone in the first 45, wasn’t far off on the half hour mark drawing a smart save out of Mowthorpe at his near post.
And it was Wilson who scored the opening goal of the match after the referee overruled his assistant’s flag for offside.
Axell picked up the first yellow card for a foul in Basingstoke’s next attack but Reid slammed the resulting free-kick into the wall and then Cliff tried his luck from distance only for Mowthorpe to make a fine stop.
George Hallahan doubled his side’s lead from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute and Chi were down to ten after Hutchings got his marching orders for handball.
The Chichester side were in trouble but on the stroke of half time Prichard burst down the left flank and cut the ball back to Penny who slotted the ball past Schwarzer to reduce the arrears.
Chances came and went straight after the break.
Hallahan had an effort charged down; Penny and Dunn linked up nicely as the Canadian drove into the box; Jones missed an opportunity from a corner; and Lloyd Rowlatt wasn’t able to direct a header beyond Schwarzer.
Mowthorpe then brilliantly saved a fierce shot before his counterpart denied Jones who should have equalised.
A clever short free-kick then almost caught Chi out but Wilson’s cross flashed across the goal and Hallahan fired a shot wide.
Reid played Cook in with a lovely measured pass that beat the offside trap but an inspired Mowthorpe made a super save.
Chichester had appeals for a penalty of their own dismissed just before Clack drew them level on 69 minutes steering in a Jones’ delivery.
Ryan Peake replaced Penny and Rory Biggs came on for Heath as Chi rejigged things.
Cliff fizzed an attempt wide and Prichard’s cross-cum-shot was hooked clear and the City youngster blazed another over.
Cook then headed a set-piece off target and Ben Pashley made a well-timed tackle on Reid as he broke through on Mowthorpe.
Scott Armsworth went close before Wilson lifted an effort high over the bar.
Peake was given a yellow for a heavy challenge that might have been a red on another day before another excellent tackle by Pashley denied Reid once more.
Wilson should have won the tie for Basingstoke in the last minute but somehow missed when clean through on goal.
And so we went to penalties.
The first two were saved before Pashley put Chi one up. Mowthorpe then denied Armsworth to protect Chi’s advantage before Rowlatt made it 2-0 after Aiden Lewis missed Basingstoke’s third. Debutant Declan Seiden could have wrapped it up for the Oaklands Park outfit but struck his spot kick against the bar. Reid converted his and Axell sent Chi into the next round of qualifying with the last penalty of the night.
Chichester are back in FA Cup action when they face Bristol based Cribbs FC at home on Tuesday 22nd September but before that they welcome Ramsgate for their first league match on Saturday 19th September.
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Dunn, Hutchings, Axell, Heath, Pashley, Penny, Rowlatt,, Jones, Clack, Prichard. Subs – (Biggs, Briggs, Bennetts, Oakwell-Boulton, Davidson, Seiden, Peake)