First Team
Isthmian League South East Sat 5 February N/A
Chichester City
  • Rowlatt (18')

The Chi midfielder was similarly on-target last time out when Chi snapped a sequence of five wins on the spin for Isthmian south east in-form side Burgess Hill.

Miles Rutherford’s team were imperious in the first 45 on that occasion and dug in to a man after the break to defend resolutely, but the encounter with Sittingbourne was a more attritional affair with the visitors getting in front and stubbornly holding on to that advantage without setting the world on fire.

Ryan Davidson’s last-minute goal rescued a point for Chi in the reverse fixture with the Brickies at Oaklands Park played in atrocious weather conditions, and Davidson featured here in a starting XI unchanged from the one that lined-up to face Burgess Hill.

It was the hosts who probed early on and Chi keeper Kieran Magee was off his line swiftly to collect a through-ball intended for striker Kane Rowland.

Rowland then hooked up with Toby Bancroft only for Ben Pashley to slide in and concede a throw.

His centre back partner Lewis Hyde was well-in moments later as the visitors cleared their lines again.

Bancroft, Rowland and Neville Rivelino Nza combined down the right flank before another move involving Ibrahim Bamba and Johan Caney-Bryan set up Ethan Smith for a shot which Pashley blocked.

Next, Caney-Bryan steered a header from Rivelino Nza’s cross wide, and Chi finally got going as Rowlatt found Kaleem Haitham who exchanged a one-two with Rob Hutchings to crack one which deflected off a teammate.

Hutchings did well to halt Bamba’s run and then Rowlatt and Ethan Prichard gave Sittingbourne defenders something to think about.

Davidson was bundled over as Chichester pressed again. Hutchings took the resulting free-kick and Lex Allan turned it out for the away side’s first corner of the match. Another one followed, only for skipper Jamie Horncastle to mishit an attempt from the edge of the penalty area.

Rivelino Nza’s twist, turn and cross 15 minutes in presented Caney-Bryan with an opportunity but he headed over the bar.

Hyde sprayed a pass to Hutchings who moved the ball on to Haitham before Callum Overton swivelled and got away a shot. Harry Brooks couldn’t hold on to Overton’s attempt and Rowlatt gratefully latched on to the loose ball to give Chi an 18th minute lead. It was the midfielder’s third strike in four games and his seventh goal of the season in all competitions.

Play was interrupted as Hyde and Caney-Bryan received treatment after a coming together of sorts before a neat move involving Overton, Davidson and Rowlatt was tidied up by Brickies defenders.

Ben Mendoza then picked out Rowlatt with a clever pass only for the goal scorer to be tackled before Overton fired an attempt into Brooks’ gloves.

Next, Davidson headed clear another Sittingbourne set-piece and good upper body strength from Overton enabled him to hold off his marker for a shot that nicked off an opponent and into the side-netting for a Chi corner.

Rowlatt whipped this over and Hutchings’ effort was deflected by a teammate for a goal kick.

Overton and Brooks collided as they competed for a high punt and then Dan Taylor was in quickly to deny Hutchings following a smart pass from Pashley.

Moments later, the City centre back cleared Rivelino Nza’s delivery but it struck Haitham on the arm and the hosts were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Taylor Fisher took it and first Horncastle, and then Davidson, headed away.

On the half hour Haitham fed Hutchings down the left, who did a defender, but the break came to nothing despite an overload of Chi players.

The visitors had another set-piece to contend with, but coped easily enough and countered. Horncastle found a marauding Overton only for the back four to guide the ball safely to Brooks.

Bamba wasted a decent opportunity on 37 minutes skewing a shot way off target before a Pashley foul gave the Brickies a free-kick. Bancroft’s delivery was turned out for a corner that he took and Magee claimed.

A rare Davidson mistake led to a further set-piece which Bancroft struck into Magee’s side-netting four minutes ahead of the interval.

Overton might have run on to Mendoza’s through-ball but he, like many players, slipped on the heavy surface.

And then the Chi No9 played a pass a bit behind the hard-working Prichard.

An oversight by Hutchings allowed Bancroft to get in only to see his shot blocked and a teammate flagged offside anyway.

A chance came and went for the visitors on the stroke of half time when Hutchings crossed for Overton to tee up Mendoza whose effort was saved by Brooks.

Pashley’s determined run through the middle, opened things up after the restart only for a Sittingbourne player to impede him and Hutchings’ free-kick was headed off-target by Hyde.

Horncastle got up well and Overton flicked on towards Mendoza before Prichard just couldn’t quite get past the last man.

Rowland then hit a long-ranger high and wide and silky skill from Mendoza helped him bedazzle his marker but he might have gone to Prichard first time.

Another piece of skill by Rowlatt saw him turn a Brickies player ahead of a neat move involving Haitham, Overton and Prichard which led to Horncastle rifling a shot that wasn’t far off.

Emmett Dunn, who missed the mid-week victory over Burgess Hill with a knee injury, replaced Haitham on 58 minutes – the first in a series of substitutions for both sides.

A slip from Pashley this time could have allowed Caney-Bryan in but Mendoza got the ball back to Magee who hooked awkwardly clear.

Horncastle then won a super challenge and fed Mendoza who found Hutchings on the overlap. Brooks however, claimed the Chi left back’s low cross.

Tyler Anderson, on for Bancroft, caused the visitors problems with his pace on the right flank and a classy cut-back was diverted for a corner just before a Sittingbourne double substitution.

Magee dealt with the corner comfortably and another free-kick came to nothing for the hosts.

With 20 minutes to go the Brickies spurned their best chance when Fisher played a delicious forward pass but neither Rowland or Caney-Bryan could get a final touch.

At the other end, Davidson sent in an inviting cross and Rowlatt failed to trouble Brooks with a rather tame shot.

Hyde, who put in a real shift, made a couple of impressive tackles and Caney-Bryan drifted offside twice to bring an untimely end to promising attacks.

Chichester kept grinding, although without any cutting edge.

Moves invariably fizzled out for both teams as the pitch got heavier and heavier.

Prichard had a go from some distance with an effort that deflected off a defender for a corner. Mendoza played this short to Rowlatt whose cross fell to Overton but Brooks got something behind Overton’s swing and gathered at the second attempt.

Eric Georges-Dellaud, an 88th minute replacement for Prichard, hit a fierce shot over the frame of the goal after Overton squared the ball to him.

And then Overton became the second Chi player to see red in three games for an incident late on.

Magee was called into action in time added on but claimed Allan’s flick; got to the ball before Caney-Bryan; and gathered the last kick of the game to protect the clean sheet.

As a consequence Chi leapfrogged Sittingbourne into ninth spot, but face two other tough tests in a pivotal week.

Sixth placed Herne Bay travel to Oaklands Park on Tuesday 8th February (Kick Off 7:45pm) before Chi welcome second placed Cray Valley PM on Saturday 12th February (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Hyde, Pashley, Rowlatt, Mendoza, Overton, Prichard, Haitham. Subs: (Carroll, Barry, Dellaud, Dunn, Coote)