To be fair, Chichester have faced both the league’s front runners away in this sequence and picked up a precious point at Cray Valley PM who replaced Haywards Heath as a consequence as table toppers before losing 1-0 at Hanbury Park mid-week.
October started with another 1-1 draw at home to Sittingbourne in atrocious conditions where a late leveller from Ryan Davidson in time added on earned Chi a share of the spoils. Then they somehow lost 1-0 at Three Bridges despite dominating the game before an early FA Trophy exit to Great Wakering Rovers at Oaklands.
There were two changes to the starting XI that faced Haywards Heath last time out as Prichard and Callum Overton replaced Kaleem Haitham and Tyrone Madhani.
A minute’s silence was observed before kick off with respect to the recent passing of Carly Dalton, wife of Chichester secretary Wayne Dalton.
In a sloppy opening Chi conceded a corner that Darren Oldaker fired into the side-netting before Frannie Collin and Ben Pashley duelled for the ball with the hosts’ centre back turning it out for a throw-in.
Miscommunication between Pashley and fellow defender Lewis Hyde led to another early corner after both went for the same header. This was cleared by Davidson and then Alex Brown clattered Lloyd Rowlatt, in his first start in four, and Hythe won a free kick of their own which Pashley got away.
Collin, Charlie Webster and Kane Phillip linked up next seven minutes in and Phillip fed a pass to Gilbert whose effort cannoned back off an upright and keeper Kieran Magee for a third corner.
Magee came out to claim a cross from Gilbert before Chi started to get a foothold and moved the ball around more slickly.
Rowlatt’s shot on the quarter hour mark was charged down and then skipper Jamie Horncastle exchanged a pass with Emmett Dunn who moved the ball on to Prichard who curled a beautiful strike into the top right hand corner.
The jubilation might not have lasted long as the visitors got into Chi’s penalty area once more only for Dunn to deny Collin with an impressive block after the ball had been cut back to the Hythe No10.
A lovely cross field pass from Horncastle picked out Ben Mendoza on the left but there was too much on his delivery.
The visitors’ shot-stopper Will Godmon then palmed Rowlatt’s attempt over the bar at the mid-point for Chichester’s first corner. Rob Hutchings whipped this in and Godmon tipped it over once again.
Gilbert was given the first yellow card of the match going in high on Hyde in the 27th minute just before Rowlatt flicked the ball on Mendoza who couldn’t find a teammate with his cross.
Oldaker and Phillip probed for the away side but Horncastle got in a fine block and Hutchings hooked the loose ball clear.
Hyde conceded a set-piece following a foul on Tom Walmsley. Oldaker’s delivery was dealt with easily enough by Magee who punted the ball upfield towards Mendoza but Godmon beat him to it.
Alex Brown was the next player to go into the referee’s notebook and received a stern talking to for a heavy challenge on Mendoza.
Davidson then set up Overton for a shot on the turn which Godmon handled comfortably.
His counterpart gathered a Nathan Gordon cross under pressure and a couple of minutes before the break Hyde steered an effort narrowly wide of the left hand post.
Nice play by Prichard teed up Dunn for a go this time but it nicked off a Hythe defender and out for a corner.
The visitors forced one of their own on the stroke of half time which Overton powerfully headed away.
Both teams exchanged free kicks in the first ten minutes or so of the second 45 which came to nothing.
Rowlatt found Prichard who knocked the ball round Liam Smith only for Godmon to get there first and clear.
Rowlatt then almost dispossessed Godmon in no man’s land.
Hythe rang the changes ahead of the hour with Noel Leighton and James Rogers coming on for Brown and Phillip.
And Leighton might have got on a corner moments after Overton’s header from Prichard’s cross failed to trouble Godmon.
Magee, who had little to do all game, punched away a 62nd minute corner and then Pashley pinged a long ball towards Overton that Godmon met with his knee.
How Leighton didn’t get a card for tugging down Davidson is anybody’s guess before Prichard elected to cross rather than take on Scott Doe and his delivery was too deep for Mendoza.
Rowlatt and Overton hooked up next only for Prichard to jink into the box but overhit the ball.
Smith lifted a long ball on to the roof of Magee’s net with 20 to go and then a super Rowlatt corner was inches away from three teammates with none of them able to get a decisive touch.
Pashley broke up a move involving Collin and Walmsley ahead of Godmon getting a glove on another Rowlatt corner.
Overton got booked in the 75th minute but Chi dealt with Smith’s subsequent free-kick.
Magee then gathered a Oldaker cross and he and his defenders coped with a corner and follow-up set-play for a soft foul by Hutchings.
Davidson did well to head away sub Jordan Sarfo’s effort and Gordon steered a cross-cum-shot over.
Madhani, Chi’s joint top scorer, replaced Mendoza on 83 minutes and Magee pulled off his only true save of the match diving down low to his right to deny Leighton.
The No1 then picked a Smith cross and at the other end Overton forced a stop out of Godmon before Gilbert broke Chi hearts with his late long range leveller in the 88th minute.
Chichester don’t have a game next week but welcome Whitstable Town to Oaklands Park on Saturday 6th November (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Hyde, Pashley, Prichard, Dunn, Overton, Rowlatt, Mendoza. Subs: (Heath, Madhani, Haitham, Carroll)