First Team
Isthmian League South East Sat 17 December Southwood Stadium
Chichester City

The Kent team, who haven’t been out of the top three spots all season, came into this game on the back of a 3-1 victory away at fourth place Whitehawk, whereas Chi got spanked 4-1 at Beckenham Town last time out, in a performance manager Miles Rutherford described as “woeful”.

Here though, the visitors turned in a much different display to nullify the free-scoring Rams, and dominate significant spells, playing with grit and guile.

Chichester’s first Isthmian south east division match in that inaugural 2019-20 Step 4 campaign saw them beat Ramsgate 2-1 at the Southwood Stadium thanks to a wonderful Matt Axell strike and a last minute penalty by the midfielder. And in 2021-22 Tyrone Madhani grabbed an equaliser as Chi came from behind to draw 2-2.

There were two changes to the starting XI which suffered the heavy defeat to Becks in Greater London with Lloyd Rowlatt and Emmett Dunn re-introduced to offer some silk and steel in the centre of the park.

Skipper Josh Clack won Chi a corner in the opening minute latching on to Rob Hutchings’ clever pass and Jamie Horncastle, who would whip in a catalogue of these in the first 45, picked out Hutchings only for the defender to be deemed offside.

Ben Pashley, with his sole mistake of the game, gave the ball away to Jerald Aboagye on three minutes only for the Rams No2 to overrun it driving into the box.

Next, Dunn made a couple of timely tackles on first Tijan Jadama and then Denzelle Olopade.

A slick series of exchanges between Tom Chalaye, Clack, Hutchings and Dunn got Chi going once more before a home side player was clipped and the move fizzled out.

After Ryan Davidson lost possession Olopade, Aboagye, Jadama and Nathan Wood linked up down the right but Ethan Prichard, a bright spark all match, tidied up.

As did Rowlatt sixty seconds later when the hosts countered as Hutchings pinged cross field to Davidson.

Hutchings then went long to Chalaye who tested Ramsgate keeper Josh Bexon.

Chalaye was at it again in the subsequent attack, although his hit was diverted for a second corner. This came out to Rowlatt whose shot was blocked again for a corner on the other side and Connor Cody’s header was comfortably claimed by Bexon.

Chichester then lost Chalaye to what might prove to be a nasty knee injury, with play held up whilst the striker received treatment.

Kaleem Haitham replaced Chalaye before Hutchings fired over a cross into the penalty area but no one was there.

Next, the Chi left back, putting in a real shift, found Clack who wasn’t far away from an opener.

Intricate passing between Cody, Hutchings, Dunn and Pashley presented Clack with another opportunity which the back-line snuffed out and Horncastle cracked one at the mid-point.

Hutchings denied Aboagye on 25 and Jadama tried his luck with an effort that veered wide after Davidson turned the ball over cheaply.

Prichard’s 27 minute free-kick nicked off a defender for a corner which Horncastle delivered and Cody nodded into the area to no avail.

A combination of challenges from Dunn and Davidson then prevented Ashley Miller from making progress before Davidson picked Haitham who couldn’t offload.

Olopade, possibly Rams’ first half stand-out, broke and earned his team their first corner on the half hour mark.

Miller sent this over and two brave blocks denied Ben Fitchett and then Wood for another corner from which Lauric Diakiesse pulled a shot wide.

Chi broke away once more with Haitham and Prichard combining to tee Dunn up for a drive that whistled past the right-hand post.

Jamie Coyle was cautioned by Nick Dunn for a foul in the 33rd minute and a neat set-piece led to a Hutchings’ shot that got deflected for a corner which Bexon claimed easily enough.

Prichard fizzed one narrowly wide of an upright before Diakiesse flicked the ball on to Miller only to shoot off target.

Wood probed down the left flank and Horncastle managed to get in the way of a fierce second effort as the ball popped around in the Chi box and conceded a corner which Miller headed over.

Prichard then spurned a decent chance, shooting high, after Rowlatt, Horncastle and Hutchings carved the hosts open.

At the other end, Diakiesse’s cross was cleared for a Rams’ corner that Jadama, this time, headed over the frame of the goal.

A minute before the break Kieran Magee was forced into his first save of the match following a quick throw but Miller struck his effort straight at the Chi custodian.

Neither side made changes at the interval and a superb Hutchings’ reverse played Haitham, a regular outlet for Chi raids down left, in for a measured cross which was hooked away.

Hutchings then delivered towards Clack only for the No9 to steer his header off target.

Pashley was well-in on Jadama; Dunn headed safely back to Magee; and the Chi keeper gathered another through ball easily enough.

Next, Horncastle pulled a stop out of Bexon and lovely chest control from Rowlatt brought the ball under initially but it got away from him before he was impeded.

Hutchings’ free-kick won the visitors a corner which was headed well over.

And then Prichard went close with a strong hit and an unmarked Dunn rushing in couldn’t quite find a touch, nor the back of the net.

Slick passing between Hutchings, Haitham and Prichard launched another Chi attack which Rams defenders managed to turn out for a corner that came to nothing.

Rowlatt walloped one inches wide before the ball wouldn’t fall for one of his teammates after some frenetic pinball.

On the hour Cody overplaying allowed Diakiesse to profit on the left wing only for Aboagye to blaze over.

Moments later a lapse from Davidson led to Diakiesse getting in one-on-one with Magee but he miscued horribly and stabbed the ball well-wide.

Haitham threatened again for the visitors and wasn’t far off with a decent effort before Horncastle blocked sub Lucas Atkins’ drive.

Another Haitham opportunity went begging before Magee pulled off the save of the match to deny Fitchett with his fingertips when the shot seemed destined top bins with 13 or so to go.

Davidson made an important header as Ramsgate pressed and then had further defending to do to clear the loose ball.

In the final five minutes Rowlatt cut back to Prichard who narrowly missed.

Then Davidson’s strong shot cannoned off a defender for a corner before both sides had a couple of set-pieces to deal with as the clock ticked down.

For mid-table Chichester, the division’s draw specialists, a point here against the league leaders felt like three and on another day might well have been.

Chi welcome Lancing to Oaklands Park on Wednesday 28th December (Kick Off 7:45pm) before travelling to East Grinstead Town on Monday 2nd January (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Cody, Pashley, Chalaye, Dunn, Clack, Rowlatt, Prichard (Haitham, Moore, Bello, Clarke, Munt).