The Kent hosts might have been knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup in the second-round proper by League Two AFC Wimbledon in a match shown live on ITV a week or so ago but came into this mid-week fixture on the back of a fine run of league form – nine wins and one draw in ten previous games with their only division defeat coming on the opening day of the campaign.
Chi, meanwhile, had only picked up four points from a possible fifteen in a recent dip.
Chichester hadn’t lost in their three previous visits to Ramsgate.
The Rams were Chi’s first ever league opponents after they were promoted to Step 4 in 2019-20 and a Matt Axell goal and last-minute penalty earned them a spectacular comeback victory away in that inaugural season. This was the year obviously that Chichester battled through six qualifying ties and got a bye to the second ‘proper’ round of the world’s oldest knock-out football competition to meet League One Tranmere Rovers in a match broadcast by BT Sport. Covid curtailed 2020-21 and they didn’t face each other at the WW Martin Community Stadium; drew 2-2 the next year; and Chi dug deep for a goalless draw away last campaign.
There were four changes to the starting XI for the visitors that lined up against Hastings United in that 2-1 Velocity Cup loss last time out. Kieran Magee returned in goal, Ryan Davidson slotted in at centre back, with Rob Hutchings on the left and Emmett Dunn playing No10.
The kick off was delayed some fifteen minutes because of travel problems but when we did finally get underway the hosts won a corner in the opening sixty seconds.
This didn’t threaten Chi and Joe Moore cleared the ball upfield towards Conrad Honore only for the Rams keeper Tom Hadler to rush out and intercept.
Skipper Mike West hit a wild one in the first genuine opportunity after good work from Alfie Paxman and Taylor before Isaac Bello spurned a decent chance at the other end when he couldn’t keep his header down from Josh Clack’s cross.
Hutchings was booked early doors for an indiscretion and fired an effort wide of the mark nine minutes in.
Next, West, Bello and Davidson were all involved in a bit of pushing and shoving which the ref had to sort out.
Alfie Paxman and Taylor tried to hook up but the reverse pass didn’t quite come off and then the much travelled and experienced Lee Martin sent a free-kick from the edge of the area well-over.
The ref let a couple of heavy challenges on Kyle O’Brien and Bello go as Chi tried to get going.
With the wind swirling around passes were regularly, and unsurprisingly, misplaced.
The visitors won a first corner on 17 which Rob Hutchings took and Clack flicked wide.
Taylor couldn’t get the ball under control twice as the hosts pressed before Alfie Paxman pinged one forward to TJ Jadama who had strayed offside.
Moments later O’Brien’s timely tackle led to him slotting the ball through to Dunn but Hadler was equal to his effort.
Alfie Paxman, who shone all night, did Bello but his square-pass was cut out and Dunn was caught by Jack Parter.
Davidson was on hand to intervene and when the ball was subsequently lifted over there was no Ramsgate player there to capitalise.
Taylor broke the deadlock though in the 32nd minute outmuscling three, maybe four, opponents in the box before smashing it past Magee and into the back of the net.
It might have been 2-0 seconds later but West swept one straight at the Chi custodian.
Davidson joined Hutchings in the book for a crude challenge on Jadama and the set-piece was hooked out for a throw.
Next, Taylor nipped beyond Bello but not Davidson and Honore tried his luck from distance.
Crucial moments came and went as the break approached.
Magee got down brilliantly to his left to save in the 43rd minute; a long-ranger almost troubled him too; Alfie Paxman blazed over; Curtis Da Costa blocked a Taylor effort; and the No9 was bundled over in the area – no pen according to the ref.
And on the stroke of half time Dunn wasted an excellent chance after Bello played him in.
Honore’s shot just after the restart was easy enough for Hadler and Parter fired one high and wide at the opposite end.
O’Brien found Moore with a precision pass but the final attempt was no problem for Hadler.
Magee then picked O’Brien with a decent kick down the left only for Hadler to claim his cross-cum-shot.
Jordan Green and Taylor combined although Chi smuggled the ball away.
The Rams ramped up the pressure in a purple patch as Jack Paxman whipped a cross over; a teammate flashed one narrowly wide; and a poor clearance fell to Taylor. He laid it off to Green who pulled an excellent save out of Magee with his feet.
Honore teed up Bello for a fierce shot which wasn’t far away.
Green was impeded in a dangerous spot and Alfie Paxman’s free-kick went over the crossbar.
Rob Hutchings made a superb tackle to deny Green and concede a corner which was easily cleared before Dunn and Joe Clarke both had shots blocked.
And then it was 2-0 on 71 minutes as Taylor bagged his 27th goal of the season latching on to a delicious through ball.
The visitors exchanged Moore and O’Brien for Kaleem Haitham and Lee Seok-jae before Ramsgate extended their lead through Alfie Paxman whose crisp shot went in off the post.
Clarke was cautioned for a shirt tug with 13 to go before a fracas ensued after Dunn appeared to stamp on an opponent. The referee and one of his linesmen had a chat and Dunn and Jack Paxman were cautioned.
Craig Stone’s free header from the consequent free-kick went wide and then Magee conceded a needless corner that was eventually cleared.
Next, Dunn, somewhat on the edge, received a second yellow for what the ref considered a rash challenge.
A man down now, Owen Spicer replaced Bello on 87 before Alex Paxman’s curled set-piece was claimed by Magee.
There wasn’t a lot though the No1 could do on 89 minutes as Paxman wrapped things up with his brace.
And Taylor might have grabbed a hat-trick with the last kick of the game but Magee was there to deny him.
So, the hosts stay top with Chichester in eleventh place. Chi are back in Kent when they travel to Hythe Town next on Saturday16th December (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Bello, Rob Hutchings, Clarke, Da Costa, Davidson, Clack, Moore, Honore, Dunn, O’Brien. Subs – (Munt, Spicer, Lee, Haitham).