The Ites had an extraordinary 2021-22 season, winning three cups and pipping Chatham Town to the south counties east premier division title by two points having narrowly missed out on promotion the previous year when Corinthian went up on a slender margin based on points per game across two COVID-curtailed campaigns.
City boss Miles Rutherford made a single change to the starting XI that lined up against Frimley Green in the FA Cup extra-preliminary round last time out with Ryan Davidson returning at right back.
Sheppey player-manager Jack Midson, in his first league game in charge, fielded one new signing and it was the home side that created an early opportunity barely sixty seconds in when Kieran Magee gave the travelling fans a heart in your mouth moment following a heavy touch on Connor Cody’s back pass only for striker Warren Mfula to impede the Chi custodian.
Conrad Honore got up well moments later and Dan Birch hit a misplaced pass before the visitors’ left back Rob Hutchings held Dean Grant off effectively.
Renford Tenyue was next unhappy not to be awarded a free-kick and Olly Munt picked out Josh Clack but the Chi skipper couldn’t get the ball under control.
An advanced Hutchings then forced Sheppey keeper Aiden Prall to spoon the ball out for a throw-in and Prall beat Overton to a long pass.
Munt sought Overton with another one in Chi’s subsequent attack before Tom Dinsmore’s super turn got Munt and Kaleem Haitham away for a soft set-piece which Clack wasted.
Lewis Hyde was forced to concede the first corner of the match on 14 minutes that Ashley Sains headed down and Magee gathered.
The home side earned another as the ball popped up off the 4G pitch and deceived Hyde – this one though was delivered too deep.
Clack had a penalty appeal turned down after the first drinks break as Kent basked in the August heatwave before Haitham saw his effort gloved over the crossbar by Prall following neat exchanges between Davidson, Honore and Overton.
Hutchings was then fouled and the free-kick tipped over for a training ground corner on the other side from which Hyde cracked one.
On 26 minutes Overton chested a Munt pass into Haitham’s path with the No11 being brought down but the free-kick came to nothing.
Mfula and Grant hooked up at the other end and Grant’s cross-cum-shot was steered out for a corner that Davidson cleared easily enough before Aibangbee’s delivery was dealt with by Hutchings.
A profligate Clack spurned a 35th minute opportunity and Hutchings got the ball back to Magee under pressure from Grant.
The Sheppey player then passed up the best chance of the opening 45 – unmarked in the box he couldn’t steer his header either side of Magee.
And in the three minutes of time added on Sheppey turned defence into attack with a quick transition where, despite plenty of opportunities to clear their lines, Chichester failed to do so, and Aibangbee tucked the ball away clinically.
Dinsmore shot high and wide as Chi probed early after the interval.
A coming together between Hyde and Billy Bennett led to a set-piece which Hyde headed away.
The visitors then won a corner after Haitham crossed towards Overton and the ball nicked off a defender.
Next, a lovely delivery fell to Davidson but he couldn’t quite get enough purchase.
Another Magee moment presented the impressive Mfula with a chance he failed to capitalise on before Munt pulled a smart stop out of Magee’s counterpart.
And then Overton equalised with a delicious header from the resulting corner.
Magee claimed a 56th minute cross confidently ahead of composed defending by Cody under threat from Aibangbee and Mfula.
Dinsmore, who picked up a knock around the hour mark, was subbed for Joe Clarke, and Ethan Prichard and Ryan Pennery came on for Haitham and Munt as Chi rejigged.
Prichard was soon in the thick of it teeing Clack up for a fierce drive which Prall got something on.
Pennery and Prichard, who both found pockets of space, might have shot earlier as Chichester searched for that all important third goal.
Prall then denied Overton and Magee claimed Grant’s cross as momentum swung this way and that.
Prichard and Pennery combined once more but Clack delayed shooting and Prichard’s effort was always rising.
Sheppey sub Ashley Sheppard won his team an 83rd minute corner before Hutchings got away with one, and Prichard was pulled down.
Davidson then had a shot blocked and Clack hit a tame effort at Prall.
Olamilekan Majoyegbe did well to prevent Overton getting past him and Davidson and Cody got in timely headers.
Prichard found an overlapping Hutchings but Overton couldn’t convert the No3’s decent delivery.
Next, Clarke received the game’s sole yellow card for a foul and Magee was on hand to claim the resulting free-kick.
Chi were again too shy to shoot in the closing stages and Sheppey might have pinched it at the death only for an inviting ball in to be turned out for a corner which was squandered on the final whistle.
Burgess Hill travel to Oaklands Park for the second league game of the season on Tuesday 16th August (Kick Off 7:45pm) and Chi welcome Knaphill on Saturday 20th August for an Emirates FA Cup preliminary round tie (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Dinsmore, Cody, Hyde, Clack, Honore, Overton, Munt, Haitham (Clarke, Prichard, Dellaud, Pennery, Pashley).