First Team
Isthmian League South East Sat 12 March Oaklands Park
Chichester City
  • Clack (9')

Miles Rutherford’s side had lost their previous four league encounters against front-runners Hastings; play-off chasers Cray Valley and Herne Bay; and Hythe Town, but had top scorer Callum Overton available again after a three-match suspension and welcomed winger Kaleem Haitham back into the starting XI.

When the teams met in the reverse fixture in November ten-man Sevenoaks salvaged a point with a last-minute equaliser.

Not one player from that match lined up against the Sussex side here in a team under new management and with a raft of new recruits that snapped a six-game winless streak with an impressive 3-1 victory over Herne Bay last time out.

And it was the visitors who started the brighter forcing a corner after barely sixty seconds when Chi defenders got in a bit of a mix-up.

A quick break down the right presented Lloyd Rowlatt with a chance on three minutes but the midfielder, who worked tirelessly all game, couldn’t quite get his head to the ball.

Lewis Hyde then made a well-timed tackle on Yahaya Bamba and Chi keeper Kieran Magee gathered a forward pass intended for Bradley Wilson.

Slick passing between Emmett Dunn, Rob Hutchings and Haitham set Overton up for a shot that was too hot to handle for Oaks custodian Tyler McCarthy and Clack reacted quickiest to steer the ball into the back of the net and put the hosts in front.

Both Clack and Haitham lost possession in the next attacks and Rowlatt managed to head away a long throw-in from Matt Weaire.

Chichester countered only for an opponent to block Clack’s shot on the turn.

Next a composed Dunn dealt with the menace offered by Freddie Parker, who like Bamba was on the score-sheet against Herne Bay.

McCarthy, somewhat nervy early doors, mishandled Ryan Davison right-sided cross, but Clack couldn’t get the loose ball under control.

A defender then got something in the way of Overton’s attempt and at the other end Bamba outfoxed Hutchings on the flank and sent a delivery over to Parker whose ambitious flick didn’t come off.

There was a stoppage for McCarthy to receive some treatment and when play resumed Weaire launched another long throw into the box only for Dunn to be clattered.

Overton won Chi their first corner on 26 minutes which Hutchings whipped across and Sevenoaks smuggled away.

Bamba might have got in on the half hour one-on-one with Ben Pashley but the Chi skipper was pushed to the deck before Davidson probed once again only to over-hit the delivery.

Wilson then drove down the left, but his cut back was cut out by Dunn.

Rowlatt, Davidson and Dunn combined next to tee up Haitham for a cleared effort.

Weaire’s long throws were a thorn in the hosts’ side and five minutes ahead of half time Rowlatt glanced another away. The ball was played back into the mixer and Magee claimed easily enough.

Corey Holder couldn’t find sufficient power on his header to trouble Magee before the game was paused as Chi physios and staff attended a spectator down in the stands.

A slick passage of play earned the Oaklands Park outfit a corner which was headed away only as far as Davidson, but defenders bravely blocked.

And then Magee pulled off the save of the match in time added on denying Wilson with his fingertips and punching away the resulting corner.

A speculative cross-cum-shot from Overton was gathered by McCarthy in the first attack after the interval.

Pashley’s raking diag sent Davidson scampering down the right only for Overton to foul Weaire.

Rowlatt’s through ball to Overton was then a bit too firm before the Chi striker headed narrowly wide in the 51st minute.

Clack might have doubled his tally with a shot on the swivel that was deflected and Mendoza’s cross got hooked out for a corner which came to nothing.

Hyde nearly found a decent connection on Rowlatt’s set piece and his centre back partner Pashley responded neatly to Wilson’s forward pass towards Parker with a calm header back to Magee.

Hyde then beat Bamba to the ball in a purple patch for Sevenoaks and Hutchings dealt with that ubiquitous long throw.

The visitors rang the changes bringing on Kevat Serbonij and Lesley Duru for Reece Gillies and Joe Bingham.

Super beep-beep stuff from Mendoza allowed him to glide past a player or two but his shot skewed off target before Haitham similarly fired wide of the mark.

Hutchings’s cross was then diverted for a corner which Overton got on the end of and a Rowlatt effort nicked off a defender for another one.

Tolulope Jonah somehow got away without a yellow card for a foul on Overton with 10 to go and intelligent defending from Hutchings snuffed out the danger created by Parker and Bamba.

Magee grasped Ryan Palmer’s cross confidently and got a glove on a second chance after Dunn forfeited a free-kick.

The Chi No1 then gave the ball away cheaply and Bamba rushed into the area only for Wilson to cross poorly.

Ethan Prichard replaced Haitham with five to go and Hutchings made a super challenge on the lively Bamba before hacking away another delivery.

Sevenoaks pressed desperately for a leveller – Hutchings turned a long throw out for a corner which Magee palmed over for another one on the other side; and in the last minute of four in stoppage time Chichester somehow scrambled a final corner clear with all the Oaks players, including McCarthy, in the penalty area, to claim all three points.

Chi are back in Isthmian south east action away at Phoenix Sports on Saturday 19th March (Kick Off 3pm).

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