The high-flying Kent-based visitors came into the match on the back of an unbeaten run of nine league games whereas, in a tale of two Cities, Chi didn’t even concede a goal, let alone lose, in the opening two months of the South East division although they have subsequently suffered two 1-0 defeats, a couple of 1-1 draws and only a single win away at Burgess Hill in October and November.
There was just the one change to the starting XI that lined up barely 48 hours previously against Erith & Belvedere on Sunday with Joe Moore replacing skipper Steve Hutchings.
It finished one-apiece in the corresponding fixture at Oaklands Park last season where the Brickies snatched an equaliser with a minute of normal time to go, but here ‘home’ at Bognor’s MKM Arena a strong Sittingbourne side started with real intensity.
No9 Chris Harris dispossessed Kaleem Haitham three minutes in as the visitors pressed and Jones’ pass to D’Shaun Theobalds led to a deflected shot and the first corner of the match which was hacked away.
Kieran Magee punted upfield to Ethan Prichard only for the move to fizzle out.
The Chi custodian then oddly gave the ball away cheaply to Fischer, once on PSG’s books, who failed to take advantage of an open goal, and Jamie Horncastle somehow cleared off his line.
Next, referee Stephen Hawkes ignored Jones’ appeal for a free-kick after going over in a heap but the same player was awarded one following some more theatricals after Emmett Dunn tackled him. Theobalds whipped his set-piece into the box and Curtis Da Costa headed clear.
A Brickies’ probing raid down the left resulted in a cross which Fischer, who grabbed a double in that 4-1 thumping of former table-toppers Three Bridges last time out, flashed into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 1-0.
The hosts prevented Fischer getting in once again on 14 although Prichard lost possession in the counter and then was guilty of a poor cross in the consequent attack.
Nice play from Dunn set up Joe Clarke but Jones’ timely challenge denied him.
Dunn was then booked for an off-the-ball incident with Fischer in the 19th minute before Sittingbourne keeper Bobby Mason got to the ball ahead of Josh Clack and skewed it out for a throw-in.
Next, Jones beat Clack in a challenge but his delivery was too firm.
Neat skill by Rob Hutchings instigated a slick move involving Clarke and Haitham only for a rather disappointing final cross – an unfortunate feature of the opening 45.
Neither Clack, Dunn or Prichard could find decent connections on 24 minutes as the ball just wouldn’t sit up.
A brilliant tackle by Horncastle prevented a swift attack by the visitors; Da Costa got in before Harris; and Mason gathered Hutchings’ effort at the second time of asking.
The away side had to withdraw Fischer on 32 as a result of an injury before Harris found Harry Hope with a clever backheel but the No10 was offside.
Just after the half hour mark Davidson picked Prichard who wasn’t able to lift it over Mason and Davidson’s follow up sailed over the bar.
Prichard then fired a delivery too high towards Clack and he couldn’t keep his header down.
Seconds later Clack and Prichard played a clever one-two only for another wayward cross that might have been fizzed along the floor.
At the other end Joe Tyrie headed narrowly wide and in time added on a Chi chance went begging before the Sussex side got a first corner of the match which came to nothing.
An advanced Moore won a throw sixty seconds after the break but Harris did well to hold the ball up and clear.
Da Costa was felled on 48 but the eventual pass to Prichard after the free-kick was too firm.
Luke Woodward spurned a glorious opportunity to double the lead in the 53rd minute as he scuffed one and Hutchings was similarly guilty moments later when he drilled an effort off target.
A slip from Woodward meant he had to concede a throw-in and Bagusan Graham effectively shielded the ball from Prichard to earn his side a goal kick.
Jones’ driving run carved up midfield but Theobalds pass to Ayman El-Moghaebel was flagged for offside.
Haitham was then poleaxed on the edge of the penalty area after sound work from Clarke and Moore. However, Prichard’s free-kick didn’t trouble shot-stopper Mason.
Olly Munt replaced Haitham on 64 and El-Moghaebel was exchanged for Mitchell May.
Prichard got bundled over by Gabriel Piorkowski and Davidson headed just wide.
Dunn then was manhandled by Harris; Mason claimed ahead of Munt; and a decent cross from Clack to Prichard was steered out for a corner with 20 minutes to go.
Good feet by Graham saw him drift past Clarke and Munt hooked away the loose ball after Magee couldn’t check a corner kick.
Conrad Honore came off the bench for Clarke five minutes later and the sub found Clack with an intelligent through ball. The No9 went wide to Mason’s right but the angle became too acute.
And then it was 2-0 courtesy of an unlucky own goal after Jones’ cross was initially cleared but rebounded off Horncastle and into the Chi net.
The hosts forged another opportunity as the clock ticked down when Davidson crossed for Clack who couldn’t get any purchase on his header.
Sittingbourne broke but Hope’s delivery was poor.
Hutchings then absolutely cracked one that Mason fingertipped over the bar as we went into stoppage time.
Mason was also on hand to punch clear a subsequent corner which was whipped in for a teammate to somehow clear off the line again before Mason made another couple of outstanding stops.
Davidson was pushed in the back in the last attack of the game and Hutchings curled his free-kick round the wall but not past Mason.
So, Chi, with five wins, three draws and three losses, remain in seventh place and Sittingbourne third. Chichester welcome Ashford United next to the MKM Arena on Saturday 25th November (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Rob Hutchings, Moore, Da Costa, Horncastle, Haitham, Dunn, Clack, Clarke, Prichard. Subs – (Bello, Munt, Lee, Honore, Lumsden).