Miles Rutherford’s men had lost by the same score-line away in Kent against Whitstable mid-week and the sense of deja-vu was exacerbated by the fact that Herne Bay won the reverse fixture in the same circumstances at Oaklands Park in February when a likely and well-deserved share of the spoils evaporated thanks to a heart-breaking late stoppage-time goal.
Ryan Davidson returned at right back, Tyrone Madhani got a start in place of the suspended Lloyd Rowlatt, and Kaleem Haitham came in for top-scorer Callum Overton who joined Eric-Georges Dellaud, Danny Potter, Lloyd Coote and Ollie Carroll on the bench.
Madhani cracked a third minute free-kick into the Bay wall moments before Ben Mendoza’s misplaced pass was intercepted by the hosts’ Rory Smith who fed Eddie Allsopp only for the player’s effort to get blocked.
Chi skipper Ben Pashley then fouled Kieron Campbell and Allsopp, like Madhani, fired his set-piece into defenders.
Next Davidson, a little out of sorts here perhaps, brought Campbell down on the edge of the box as Bay probed down the left flank.
Mike West took this one and curled it wide of the upright.
Rob Hutchings coped with a raking pass, getting the ball back to keeper Kieran Magee who hooked it away.
And then 13 minutes in Hutchings found Josh Clack with a super cross which Clack headed on to the bar.
The home side won the first corner of the game moments later. West flashed it over and Davidson cleared. West recycled but Mendoza got this one away as well.
Herne Bay countered again through Jack Parter and Allsopp who drilled a lovely pass to Smith only for the No7 to control the ball with his hand.
Parter similarly couldn’t get another intelligent pass down before Clack sent in an inviting delivery and Hutchings whipped over a less than impressive one.
Zak Ansah forced Magee into a save at the mid-point and then the visitors conceded a free-kick in a dangerous spot which Dan Johnson headed in to the mixer and Laurence Harvey headed wide.
Bay wasted a further set-play on the half hour and a lovely turn got Madhani away but he was undone by the rub of the green.
Mendoza got a taking to and a yellow card for a foul on West and Emmett Dunn did well to block Hamilton Antonio’s shot.
Nice play from Haitham led to a break down the right but the final cross was too close to Jordan Perrin.
Centre back Lewis Hyde challenged Ansah superbly and Chi moved forward swiftly only for Ethan Prichard to miss the chance of shooting first time.
A good effort by Campbell fizzed into Magee’s gloves and Antonio sprayed a pass to Campbell whose attempt was diverted.
Ansah then fired one into the side-netting and Smith won a corner.
Harvey joined Mendoza in the notepad for a double-handed shove and might have impeded Haitham just before the break as the Chi player drove into the penalty area, losing a boot in the process.
Haitham conceded an unnecessary corner two minutes after the re-start which Davidson cleared and the Chi defender got in well on Antonio for a Herne Bay throw.
A delicious flick by Antonio sent Campbell away only for Dunn to pick up a yellow. Allsopp fired the free-kick straight at Magee who gathered easily enough.
Campbell had another effort blocked moments later and Magee pulled off a fine stop to deny Smith who really should have scored.
Clack then picked out Prichard but the No7 couldn’t get past his marker.
Magee claimed a fierce shot from West at the second time of asking and Smith broke through the middle of the park only to deliver a poor final pass.
Too many touches by Troy Williams after neat exchanges between West and Smith meant another attack fizzled out.
Smith then struck one high and wide on 63 minutes.
Prichard spurned a rare second half Chi opportunity before Clack’s effort was steered out for his team’s first corner.
Madhani took this and Bode Anidugbe, on for Allsopp, headed away.
Campbell brought another excellent save out of Magee and Hyde was in the right place to clear off the line as Bay threatened once more.
Anidugbe then fired a shot on the swivel narrowly wide.
Dellaud replaced Haitham with 15 to go and Antonio was exchanged for Millbank as the dugouts rang further changes.
Harvey and Johnson linked up again from another corner but Johnson’s header did little to trouble Magee.
Next, Hutchings found Clack with a cross only for Perrin to save comfortably.
Moves by both teams petered out as the match headed into the last five minutes or so.
West wasted a set-piece; Overton came on for Madhani; Mobolaji Dawodu replaced Williams; and Magee dealt with a Campbell cross; before West was cautioned for a foul on Dunn.
And then West slung a delivery into the danger area in additional time and the hosts were awarded a corner from which, after a frantic goal-mouth scramble, Millbank found the back of the net to send the home fans in the stand behind into a rapturous chorus of “We are the Bay, We are the Bay”.
The win sent the hosts back into the play-off spots, leap-frogging Ramsgate who lost to Haywards Heath.
It was Chi’s third defeat on the bounce, and sixth one in nine league matches since that previous 1-0 loss at home to Herne Bay.
They remain in eleventh place.
Chichester welcome FA Vase finalists Littlehampton Town to Oaklands Park on Tuesday 12th April in the quarter finals of the RUR Cup (Kick Off 7:45pm) before entertaining East Grinstead on Friday 15th April (Kick Off 7:45pm) and travelling to Burgess Hill Town on Monday 18th April (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Dunn, Hyde, Pashley, Prichard, Mendoza, Clack, Madhani, Haitham. Subs: (Carroll, Coote, Dellaud, Overton, Potter)