The last time Chi played on Sunday was the second round ‘proper’ FA Cup tie away at Tranmere Rovers in 2019. Here, a scheduled FA Trophy Saturday home match for Welling United, with whom the Deres ground-share, led to this unusual fixture.
There was just the one change to the starting line-up that Miles Rutherford & Co fielded in the previous 5-3 victory at Burgess Hill Town with Ethan Prichard coming in for Isaac Bello.
The hosts have had a tough run of late what with one thing and another, but started brightly and forced three corners in as many opening minutes.
Ryan Davidson was at fault for the first of these hitting an awkward, too firm back pass to his keeper Kieran Magee who was forced to concede.
The home side took this short and Magee tipped the consequent cross over for one on the other side which was headed out by Jamie Horncastle.
Skipper Steve Hutchings, Emmett Dunn and Kaleem Haitham then got Chi going only for Prichard to fire high and wide before a defender turned Steve Hutchings’ attempt out for a corner from which the No9 swung and missed.
Prichard then fizzed a cross over which was headed off target.
A couple of minutes later, with Chichester growing into the game, Horncastle picked Prichard who couldn’t get it under.
Following a super tackle by Clarke on Josh Ajayi, Rob Hutchings, this time, delivered a dangerous ball to Josh Clack who was somehow denied by keeper Jordan Perrin at close range.
Next, Ajayi won a free-kick but Lee Lewis’ fiercely struck hit went a yard or so over the crossbar.
Clack then flicked the ball on at the other end only for a shot to cannon off an opponent.
On 15 minutes Prichard hooked up with Steve Hutchings who flashed one across the goal before a neat one-two between Clack and Steve Hutchings led to a shot that was blocked.
Magee was off his line quickly to beat Jedidiah Brown to a through-ball and as the momentum swung this way and that Steve Hutchings threaded a pass to Clack, although the move fizzled out.
Curtis Da Costa was brave in denying Lewis’ next attempt, and Magee, not for the last time, gloved Kian Garlinge’s effort over the bar.
Magee then claimed; Clarke blocked Ajayi’s cross; and Cameron Andrews dragged a shot narrowly wide.
The Chi custodian grabbed the loose ball at the second time of asking on 26 after Mack Reilly had a go and Prichard didn’t get quite enough curl on his attempt which was headed clear.
On the half hour mark a neat Deres’ move ended up with Andrews having a shot blocked before Ajayi’s well-struck effort was similarly closed down.
Lewis, Andrews and Brown caused the visitors a problem but the cut back was well cut out.
Magee had little trouble in the 34th minute with Brown’s drive before Haitham headed Prichard’s whipped delivery over.
Chi’s No1 was out swiftly to intercept a pass from Ajayi intended for Lewis 10 minutes before the break and Davidson received a talking to for a foul on Andrews down the left.
Lewis sent the subsequent set-piece over but it was cleared and the away team countered with Prichard finding an in-rushing Dunn whose header was also awry.
Prichard was oddly yellow-carded in the 40th minute when he’d seemingly got the ball, and Lewis walloped a shot which nicked off a defender for a corner kick.
Andrews and Reilly combined on 44 but Magee got to the delivery easily enough and a Chi corner on the stroke of half time came to nothing as, surprisingly, the first period finished goalless.
There were no changes at half time and Brown spurned two golden opportunities 60 seconds in – the first saved by Magee, the second went inches wide of the left-hand stick.
Andrews then tried his luck from distance after decent play by Ross Craig before the physio came on to give Magee some treatment for a knock.
On 54 Ajayi’s shot bounced off players for corner which Andrews floated in and Garlinge, falling backwards, got his head on the ball and almost caught Chichester out.
Haitham was exchanged for Lee Suk-jae just before the hour and the Korean won the away side a corner following a slick move with Clack. Rob Hutchings took this and the hosts smuggled the ball out for a corner on the other side.
Reilly was flagged for offside after clever stuff from Brown before Finn O’Mara impeded Steve Hutchings and Lee worked the shot-stopper with a save at his near post.
Marcel Barrington was introduced for Reilly in the 65th minute after the latter fired off target and Magee eventually smothered an Ajayi effort.
Another chance came and went for the Deres as Magee saved from Ajayi moments later before denying Garlinge with an even better stop on 71.
Lee and Dunn then played a sweet one-two and Prichard’s snap-shot was steered out for a throw-in before Clarke drilled one that was deflected for a corner which was punched away.
Next, Rob Hutchings’ free-kick was diverted again and an on-hand Clarke got the final touch at close range to give Chi the lead.
After a bit of toing-and-froing Elliott replaced Brown in the 84th minute.
Next, Andrews hit another long-ranger; Prichard was substituted for Olly Munt; and Elliott, with practically his first touch, levelled things as the visitors failed to clear their lines.
Erith & Belvedere pressed and Magee, who was outstanding, denied Barrington before Andrews almost beat him with a corner kick.
His counterpart Perrin was called into action by Munt’s swerving attempt that forced him to parry as we went into stoppage time.
Perrin then saved a Steve Hutchings’ effort; gathered a deep Rob Hutchings’ delivery; and got to the ball first after Dunn and Chi sub Bello went on lung-bursting runs.
So, Chi stay in seventh place, a couple of points off the play-off spots but with games in hand. Next up is a ‘home’ match in the league against Sittingbourne, weather permitting, at Bognor’s MKM Arena on Tuesday 21st November (Kick Off 7:45pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Rob Hutchings, Clarke, Da Costa, Horncastle, Haitham, Dunn, Steve Hutchings, Clack, Prichard. Subs – (Bello, Moore, Munt, Lee, Mohamed).