Goals from Gicu Iordache and Emmett Dunn helped Chichester grab an important win as they returned to Isthmian south east division action. Zak Ansah pulled one back for the hosts before the break and had a chance to level from the penalty spot in a dramatic last ten but keeper Steve Mowthorpe pulled off a super save.
- Ansah (41')
- Iordache (11')
- Dunn (18')
It was the sort of spirited, tenacious team performance that featured regularly for Chi last season with every player, to a man, putting in a real shift.
There were changes to the starting XI that faced Brentwood in the FA Trophy in the previous game. Rob Hutchings came back into defence; Ben Pashley lined up alongside Corey Heath with captain Connor Cody at right back instead of Dunn who pushed up into midfield in place of Matt Axell. Devon Fender came in for Kaleem Haitham to support Iordache, Scott Jones and Josh Clack.
Both sides probed in the opening five minutes.
Pashley nearly got Iordache in with a pass but George Kamurasi was quick off his line and at the other end Dean Grant similarly almost profited from a long ball.
Fender and Iordache then linked up in a quick break by the visitors only to waste the final cross.
In the seventh minute after good work from Iordache and Clack, Hutchings couldn’t quite get the ball under control to set up a shot at the far post.
The best chance of the match so far came sixty seconds later when a mix-up in the Bay back four gave Fender an opportunity to lift the ball over Kamurasi. It was somehow smuggled away with Chi players appealing for a penalty after Fender appeared to be impaired.
Moments later the hosts had a spot kick shout of their own turned down following a slick move that ended in a strong challenge on Ryan Cooper.
Iordache then put Chi in front with his fifth goal in four games – a lovely free-kick in the 11th minute.
Kamurasi had no chance but got a glove to a long-range Lloyd Rowlatt effort in Chi’s next attack.
The visitors doubled their advantage on 18 minutes from another set-piece with Dunn glancing a header past Kamurasi after Cody whipped in his delivery.
Cody then headed wide; Mowthorpe came out to claim under pressure from Grant; and Fender couldn’t get a shot off following a neat exchange with Iordache.
Chichester’s high press with numbers was giving the hosts something to think about.
A Clack cross was steered out for a corner on the half hour mark by Lawrence Harvey. Chi forced another and Jones caused Kamurasi some more trouble.
Next Iordache made a great tackle that got Chi moving forward again. The Romanian found Jones but his back heel was dealt with by Bay defenders.
Grant then forced Mowthorpe in to a smart save with an outstretched foot.
Some flowing football led to Danny Lawrence going close and Ansah lifting a subsequent attempt over.
The Herne Bay No9 though found the back of the net in the 41st minute sweeping a pass from Cooper beyond Mowthorpe after the right back caught out Hutchings and Pashley.
Heath headed away a Dan Johnson cross and then got a booking for a heavy tackle on TT Walters. Walters picked himself up and crashed his free-kick into the wall.
A foul on Fender early after the interval gave Iordache another set-piece but this time it rose over both the wall and the bar.
Mohamed Kamara then joined Heath in the ref’s notebook for going through Iordache before combining nicely with Walters only for a piece of composed defending from Heath to tidy things up for Chi.
Cody’s well-timed tackle on Ansah earned the home side a corner that Walters took and Jones made another important challenge to get the ball away.
Mowthorpe then pulled off a fine double save as Bay threatened from a corner once again, first tipping the ball away before blocking Grant’s fierce strike.
Iordache and Clack were involved in a swift counter-attack but Kamurasi got down low to Fender’s effort.
Mowthorpe then did well to hold on to Walters’ cross just before the Herne Bay player blasted a set-piece over the bar.
With play swinging from end to end Chichester also won a free-kick on the edge of the area but when the ball fell to Jones his cross was easily dealt with by Kamurasi.
The Bay keeper then raced out to beat Jones to an inviting pass from Iordache.
Mowthorpe flapped somewhat at a corner. However, Clack was there to clear the danger.
Some clever forward play from Grant then won his side a penalty with 10 minutes to go.
Ansah stepped up but Mowthorpe went the right way and got a strong glove on the spot kick to preserve Chi’s lead.
And the visitors might have added another two goals in a crazy three-minute spell that saw sub Ethan Prichard push the ball past Kamurasi but lift his effort over the bar and Clack have a goal-bound shot cleared off the line.
Herne Bay then had another appeal for a penalty dismissed.
Prichard almost capitalised on a mistake by Kamurasi before his shot on the turn was turned away as the clock wound down.
Chichester, who blew an early two goal lead last time out in their FA Trophy exit at Brentwood, seemed determined not to suffer the same fate here.
Herne Bay threw everyone, including keeper Kamurasi, forward for a 95th minute corner but Cooper headed over the bar.
Next up for Chi is a home league fixture against Three Bridges at Oaklands Park on Tuesday 27th October.
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Cody, Hutchings, Dunn, Heath, Pashley, Clack, Rowlatt, Jones, Iordache, Fender. Subs – (Overton, Kanjanda, Oladipupo, Prichard, Coote)