All that could separate Chichester City and Sevenoaks Town going into the game was Chichester’s better goal difference, as the two sides came into the game level on points.
Chichester started the game brightly with energy and pressed high up the pitch with intensity. This early pressure led to large spells of possession and a string of half chances.
The Chi possession game frustrated Sevenoaks as several fouls, resulted in multiple Chi free-kicks.
Unfortunately, the away side couldn’t capitalise on the set pieces and Sevenoaks started to disrupt Chichester’s early rhythm.
The first real chance of the game came for the home side when Danny Divine lofted a curling cross right onto the head of Louis Collins, who couldn’t find the target, guiding the ball over Kieran Magee’s goal.
Another chance came for Sevenoaks when Steve Smith picked the ball up from deep and struck a 35-yard dipping shot, but Magee got himself behind the ball and comfortably held on to the powerful strike.
Chichester responded to halt the hosts’ influence on the game, with Jamie Horncastle’s low driven shot on 24 minutes fizzing just to the left of the goal.
What then followed was an onslaught of Chi possession and goalscoring chances. Lloyd Rowlatt and Callum Overton linked up nicely for what would’ve been a fantastic team goal, but Overton’s shot was blocked and deflected out for a corner.
However, Overton wouldn’t have to wait long to get another chance. From the resulting corner, he rose high above the Sevenoaks defence and powerfully headed home, putting the away side into a deserved lead.
This inspired the away side, as Chi kept their foot on the gas and created chance after chance. The best came just minutes after the goal as Ben Bridle-Card somehow managed to keep out Rowlatt’s effort from 10-yards out.
Last weekend’s hero, Kaleem Haitham, tried to recreate his goal against Whitstable, cutting in from the left and striking with his right, but this time his shot went high and wide.
Lewis Hyde and Ben Pashley continued to spray the ball long and wide and looked to get the Chi full-backs in behind the Sevenoaks defence, with Ryan Davidson winning a few corners.
Just on the stroke of half-time, Rob Hutchings gave away a free-kick just inside the Chi half. Before the kick could be taken, there were screams from the away side and the result, a Sevenoaks red card. Steve Smith was dismissed for violent conduct, raising his hands to the face of Overton and that was the final action of an eventful first half.
Chi continued the second half in the same vein of form that they started the first half in, pressing intensely. Emmett Dunn found Davidson who had his shot blocked into the path of Rowlatt, and his strike forced Bridle-Card into a decent save down to his left.
However, a resilient 10-man Sevenoaks fought back and won a free-kick deep into the Chichester half and Collins’ dead-ball strike whistled narrowly past the right-hand post.
The two sides battled backwards and forwards exchanging chances, with Hyde having a header blocked from a corner on 57 minutes.
Sevenoaks’ Dean Gunner found himself unmarked in the box, forcing Magee into action.
Rowlatt, who was arguably Chichester’s best outlet in the game, had another chance on the edge of the area which was dragged wide.
The hosts grew into the second half and there was more freedom in their game since going down to 10-men. As their confidence rose, they found themselves having more chances and Bobby Dunn, who was dictating the play and beating the visitors to every second ball, came close with a free-kick.
Chi tried to disrupt the increasing pressure they were facing, bringing on Ethan Prichard and Ben Mendoza.
However, the hosts ramped up the intensity of their game with Collins forcing Magee into a world-class save.
Chi’s valiant defence of their lead ended on 89 minutes when they failed to fully clear a corner and Collins’ venomous shot nestled into the back of the net, causing Chi to rue their earlier missed chances.
As the game came to a climax, Chi found themselves in behind with Prichard countering down the right-hand side, but his cross was weighted heavily and evaded an onrushing Scott Jones at the far post and that was Chi’s final chance to take all three points.
Chichester will look to bounce back with a win against Whitehawk on Tuesday evening in the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup at Oaklands Park.
Match report by Harry Elgar.