Reporter: Peter Hutchings
(YouTube highlights from three earlier encounters in 2021-22 and 2019-20 between Chichester and Sevenoaks feature in this match report)
From the kick off Chichester seized the initiative and played incisive football with Rob Hutchings, Isaac Bello and Ethan Prichard causing havoc down the left. The Sevenoaks goalkeeper Amadou Tangara was forced into a good save from Bello after just 60 seconds, which resulted in a corner.
Two minutes later Bello broke clear again and should have opened the scoring.
Chichester continued to dominate, playing with a good tempo and precise passing.
This pattern ensued and Rob Hutchings might have done better after a defence splitting run.
At this stage, Sevenoaks looked shell-shocked, and it was only a combination of poor finishing and last-ditch defending that kept them in the game.
(YouTube highlights of the 1-1 draw away at Sevenoaks Town in the 2021-22 season)
The football cliché about not taking your chances proved true again.
Completely against the run of play, Sevenoaks took the lead in the 11th minute.
Ben Pashley misplaced a pass, the only mistake he made all game, and it was seized on by the Oaks centre forward Rowan Liburd who put the hosts ahead.
Chichester regrouped and continued with a high press.
Although the absence of Joe Clarke impacted the physicality of midfield, the combination of Joe Moore, Emmett Dunn and Conrad Honore continued to cause problems. And the overlapping runs and good delivery of Rob Hutchings and Ryan Davidson also presented problems for the Kent side.
The rhythm of the game carried on, with Steve Hutchings holding the ball up effectively, but being well-marshalled by the Oaks centre halves.
Chi’s defence had little to do and the calm presence of Curtis Da Costa continued to impress.
Towards the end of the first half the home team probed and Kieran Magee produced a couple of smart saves to deny them an undeserved second goal.
The subsequent period begun much as the first one had done. Chichester proceeded to press high, with Sevenoaks happy to sit back and play on the break.
(YouTube highlights of the 3-1 win against Sevenoaks at Oaklands Park in 2019-20)
The main attacking threat from the home team came once more down the flanks, but they were curtailed by the Chi full backs.
Sevenoaks grew into the game as things progressed, and Chichester continued to press. The visitors had lost Honore to what looked like a hamstring injury before the break, and he was replaced by Olly Munt.
Chi played high up in the Sevenoaks’ half and applied almost constant pressure.
Ethan Prichard looked a disconsolate figure though as he worked hard to create a breakthrough – frustrated with both himself and the referee.
Chichester pressed consistently, but a combination of resolute Oaks defending and poor Chi decision-making meant that it remained 1-0 as ref Lawrence Torz-Brown signalled nine minutes of added time.
(YouTube match highlights of the 2-2 draw away at Sevenoaks from 2019-20)
Half chances came and went, but in the 94th minute Rob Hutchings sent a 30-yard diagonal cross to the far post. Unfortunately, however, the incoming Olly Munt was unable to convert.
Somehow the game finished 1-0, and it was no surprise when Tangara, the ex-Bognor goalkeeper, was named MOM.
So, Chichester are sixth in the Isthmian South East table, two points off second spot with games in hand.
It would appear that Ramsgate and Cray Valley are the standout teams in the league, and that Chi are more than capable of challenging.
This was a great game for the neutral, and yet again an opposition manager, said that Chichester are the “best footballing side in the league”.
However, the conundrum for the City management and players is how good performances are turned into positive results.
The positives – Chi are playing good football, dominating games, creating chances, have a great team spirit, and have only conceded three goals in eight league games.
Next up – ‘home’ games against Hastings United at Bognor’s MKM Arena in the Velocity Cup on Tuesday 31st October (Kick Off 7:45pm) and Mertsham in the league on Saturday 4th November (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Rob Hutchings, Moore, Da Costa, Pashley, Bello, Dunn, Steve Hutchings, Honore, Prichard. Subs – (Horncastle, Spicer, O’Brien, Munt, Haitham).