Chichester suffered an opening day loss at home to Ramsgate as the Isthmian South East division got under way, with the four goals coming in the second half.
- Clack (65')
- Chapman (47')
- Nikaj (58', 63')
It was all very different in the season curtain raiser last year when Matt Axell scored a late penalty against the Kent side to give Chi three precious points in their first ever match at Step 4.
Here Miles Rutherford & Co went with the same starting XI that lined up against Basingstoke at the beginning of the week in a dramatic come-back penalty shoot-out win in the FA Cup preliminary round.
And the Oaklands Park outfit began brightly enough and might have been two up in as many minutes but Rams keeper Brannon Daly managed to tip a fierce effort from Ryan Penny over the bar for a corner and then moments later quick thinking by Josh Clack allowed him to poach an under-hit square ball only to fire his shot narrowly too high.
The visitors carved out a chance of their own in the next attack but Rory Smith dragged an effort from inside the box wide of Steve Mowthorpe’s post after good work from Theo White and Mitchell Chapman.
Penny almost caught Daly out as he dallied on the ball and Rowlatt’s free-kick in a frenetic first 10 minutes was just too deep for Corey Heath at the back stick.
Then City striker Scott Jones was inches away from getting to an inviting low cross by Ethan Prichard as he slid in.
Ramsgate were awarded a set-piece when Heath fouled Lee Prescott, however Mitchell Chapman headed White’s delivery off target.
Mowthorpe next saved comfortably as Prescott tried his luck after breaking through.
Clack skewed an attempt wide before Mowthorpe claimed a couple of crosses.
An intelligent pass might have set Smith up but Chi centre back Ben Pashley got things right and directed the ball calmly to his keeper.
There was another opportunity for the hosts in the 25th minute when a powerful Emmett Dunn header from an Axell corner was somehow cleared off the line.
Daly punched a Rowlatt free-kick out and Dunn’s subsequent cross was hooked away.
Mowthorpe was forced into an excellent save by Tom Chapman on the half hour following a rare Rams raid and Heath did well to turn a cut back from Ben Wilson out for a corner.
The away side took a short one and had the ball in the back of the net but referee Peter Lowe chalked the goal off for offside.
Then Mowthorpe had to come a long way out to head clear a dangerous long ball before a bit of trickery in the area from Prichard won Chi a corner that found its way to Rowlatt whose shot was charged down. The ball fell to Clack who dropped his shoulder to drill an attempt at goal which was deflected for another corner.
Ramsgate spurned a set-piece in a dangerous position and a corner before chances came and went at either end as Jones failed to pick out Clack with a cushioned knock-down and Mitchell Chapman steered a free-header wide of the mark on the stroke of half time.
Chichester were made to rue those missed opportunities just after the restart when Mitchell Chapman broke the deadlock with a simple finish from close range.
Clack might have levelled after Penny and Heath exchanged passes in a slick move but Daly pushed his shot round for a corner.
The hosts were 2-0 down before the hour as George Nikaj, who had replaced Smith ahead of the interval, ran on to a measured through ball and beat Mowthorpe to his left.
And Nikaj increased the lead within five minutes after Mowthorpe and his defenders failed to clear their lines.
Declan Seiden and Rory Biggs came on for Penny and Hutchings as Chi sought to get back into the game and a clever pass from Seiden picked out Biggs in the box. The midfielder was brought down and Mr Lowe had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Clack, who scored in open play last time out but had his pen saved in the shoot-out, stepped up and converted in some style to give Chichester a lifeline with 25 minutes to go.
Biggs, Clack and Prescott and Wilson were all booked for handbags stuff as things got lively.
Chi huffed and puffed without creating clear-cut chances – Axell got Prichard away down the left flank but the visitors dealt with his probing run; and Axell, Dunn and Clack all curled in crosses which were defended easily enough.
And Henry Arnold should have made it 4-1 when Ramsgate countered but lifted his effort over the bar after good work from Tom Chapman.
A Biggs’ shot nicked off a defender for a corner for Chi as the clocked ticked towards full time but Rowlatt’s cross was a bit high for Heath and he couldn’t keep the ball down.
Chichester are away in the league to Whyteleafe on Saturday 26th September but before that they return to FA Cup action when they face Bristol based Cribbs FC at Oaklands Park on Tuesday 22nd September.
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Dunn, Hutchings, Axell, Heath, Pashley, Clack, Penny, Jones, Rowlatt, Prichard. Subs – (Biggs, Davidson, Peake, Seiden, Oakwell-Boulton)