Miles Rutherford & Co made changes to the side that beat Risborough Rangers in the FA Cup second round of qualifying last time out. Emmett Dunn dropped back to defence in place of Corey Heath; new signing Devon Fender came in for Scott Jones up top; and Rory Biggs and Kaleem Haitham, who scored the equaliser that got Chi into the game against Risborough, were handed well-deserved starts.
The hosts, with a perfect opening to the Isthmian South East season so far following wins over Whitehawk, Whitstable and Three Bridges, might have been a goal down in the first minute when Lloyd Rowlatt went close with a fierce strike.
Dunn then headed away a Chris Edwards cross before a good run from Fender opened things up but he couldn’t find Rowlatt with his pass and Vickers keeper Nick Blue got there first.
A super shimmy by Malachi Hudson at the other end set up a chance for VCD only for the No11 to drag his effort wide after intercepting a wayward ball from Matt Axell.
Axell found Gicu Iordache in the visitors’ next attack who picked out Fender but he fired over.
Left back Rob Hutchings put Chi ahead with a cracking finish in the 12th minute latching on to a lovely cross field pass by Dunn.
Ayman El-Mogharbel threatened immediately for the home side after a neat piece of skill and then Fender sent in a delivery that Rowlatt got on to only for the defence to clear his header.
It was enthralling stuff and home players and fans alike felt Vickers had levelled from the first corner of the game but referee Harry Wager and his assistant decided Chi No1 Steve Mowthorpe was on the line rather than behind it when he made his stop.
There was little Mowthorpe could do moments later though as Anthony Adesite powered home a free-header from Edwards’ set-piece to make it 1-1.
A couple of chances came and went as Chichester, in their best start to a match in this campaign, pressed again.
Rowlatt headed over and Biggs took his eye off the ball perhaps when played in.
El-Mogharbel caused trouble in the box with a bit of trickery and Adesite robbed Hutchings down the right and earned his team a free-kick that was quickly taken, forcing a corner which Hutchings cleared firmly.
Blue flapped somewhat when Chi won a corner of their own in the next move but tipped a Rowlatt attempt brilliantly out for another one.
Connor Cody next had a shot blocked and Mr Wager wasn’t interested in appeals for a penalty after Dunn was bundled over.
Edwards blasted a free-kick into the wall with the interval looming and then Fender spurned a glorious opportunity to regain the lead when he broke through but elected to pass to an offside Haitham rather than take a shot.
And a lively first period came to an end with Hudson having an effort charged down.
The visitors started the second half brightly enough.
Fender was almost picked out by Biggs three minutes in; Blue dealt with an Iordache shot; and Pashley couldn’t keep his drive down after a determined run.
Biggs, who put in a man of the match shift in the corresponding fixture last season that Chi won 3-0, had an effort blocked before Hutchings struck a thunderous volley over the bar.
And then the game turned as Vickers grabbed three quick goals.
A slick move involving El-Mogharbel, Ashley Roberts and Hudson led to Adesite thumping in his and his side’s second in the 58th minute.
It might have been 3-1 sixty seconds later but El-Mogharbel who found space in the Chi box steered his effort over the crossbar.
Skipper Lea Dawson added a third goal on 63 minutes heading in Edwards’ free-kick far too easily as the visitors switched off.
And it was 4-1 three minutes later thanks to a super strike from Paul Vines.
Chi kept going. Haitham tried his luck with a brace of wild efforts and Fender broke into the box only to lose the ball.
Biggs was given the first yellow card of the match with 15 minutes or so to go and Ethan Prichard, Theo Bennetts and Heath came on for Axell, Haitham and Pashley.
Adesite should have got his hat-trick in the last ten minutes but couldn’t get a decent connection and Jack Berry fired one over.
Vickers sub Luke Griffiths also spurned an opportunity from close range that was turned out for a corner.
And then Fender nearly got a consolation for Chi following a mix up between Blue and Edwards but he stabbed the ball wide under a heavy challenge.
Next Blue punched clear a Rowlatt set-piece before Milli Hysi tried to catch Mowthorpe out with a lob from distance but the keeper had it covered.
In time added on Prichard couldn’t quite get to a cross from the left after Blue got a faint touch and Dunn shot inches wide just before the final whistle.
So the hosts bagged four goals again for the third league game on the bounce to top the table for now by five points.
Chi, who did the double over VCD in an extraordinary inaugural season in Step 4, have had a tough start this term but will take some positives from the match. There was certainly an intensity in their play that has been missing this year, particularly in the first half.
Coach Danny Potter tweeted, “It’s sometimes hard to reflect on a game when you lose, although I’m actually pleased with how we played. Mistakes in the box and not finishing our chances cost us. We will only improve.”
Haywards Heath visit Oaklands Park on Saturday 10th October and then the side are back in FA Cup action when they welcome Tonbridge Angels from the National League South for a third qualifying round tie on Tuesday 13th October.
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Dunn, Hutchings, Axell, Cody, Pashley, Iordache, Rowlatt, Fender, Biggs, Haitham. Subs – (Bennetts, Heath, Oakwell-Boulton, Prichard, Briggs)