Miles Rutherford & Co made four changes to the starting line-up that were defeated by the same score line at the weekend.

Back to the XI came Connor Cody in defence, midfielders Joe Clarke and Conrad Honore, with Steve Hutchings up top.

There was just the one point and a single place between the sides in the league. The Bay though have proved tough opposition for Chi at Step 4 who lost 2-0 away in that inaugural season at this level of the non-league pyramid in 2019-20. That year was COVID curtailed, as was the subsequent even shorter one when City won 2-1 in Kent. The following full campaign Rutherford’s men lost agonisingly both home and away 1-0 to winners scored in time added on and were promoted through the play-offs to the Isthmian Premier for a season.

The recent upgrade to the Football Web Pages site caused all sorts of problems all evening.

Michael Salako fouled Curtis Da Costa a couple of minutes in before Emmett Dunn, who scored what proved to be a consolation against Horndean on Saturday, struck an early attempt just wide.

Steve Hutchings and his name sake Rob Hutchings, playing at left back rather than CB, hooked up and a handball was overlooked by referee Mr Cross.

It wasn’t moments later however, as the ball popped up to the latter Hutchings.

The visitors took the free-kick but the assistant’s flag went up for offside.

Up against Theo Osinfolarin, Rob Hutchings was forced to concede a throw before Honore, Mo Jammeh and Josh Clack combined in a move that resulted in a foul.

Next, Rob Hutchings got impeded by Archie Burnett who was yellow-carded and on eight minutes Joe Clarke’s super pass picked out Isaac Bello, but the Chi No7 couldn’t get a meaningful shot off.

The ref chose not to award Chi a penalty for an infringement on Dunn and instead gave a set-piece in a dangerous area.

Rob Hutchings delivered this, although it came to nothing as did Clack’s follow-up one towards Steve Hutchings.

The hosts paid for this at the mid-point when Kane Rowland opened his and his team’s account.

Clack then went on a decent run when Cody found a pass, but the ball was lost.

Gil Carvalho headed straight at Chi keeper Kieran Magee and a Clack cross got taken off Steve Hutchings’ head.

The Chichester No9 saw his subsequent attempt saved by Harry Brooks before pulling another one wide of the mark after an opponent had gone through Bello without being spoken to.

Bello teamed up with Clack, without any end product and Clarke was caught but no foul given.

Rob Hutchings’ delivery on the half hour got cleared and might have dealt with things better as he put his back line under unnecessary pressure.

The same player however went on a lovely run past two or three visitors but Bello’s eventual pass wasn’t capitalised on.

Herne Bay broke down the wing and Cody headed the ball out for a corner which was cleared easily enough for Steve Hutchings to lay off to Bello.

Rob Hutchings then spurned a corner kick; Cody tidied up as Carvalho threatened down the left flank; and the Bay No7 had a go in stoppage time.

The away side conceded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area straight after the break. Clack took this and certainly made the keeper work as he batted the ball clear of danger.

Dunn was then fouled by Frankie Smith who received a booking.

Rob Hutchings whipped in the set-piece for a couple of headers that didn’t really trouble the Kent outfit and then Honore, twisting and turning, set Chi off again.

Momentum swung this way and that as first Herne Bay won a corner and the hosts countered quickly as Jammeh found an overlapping Rob Hutchings who earned the hosts one of their own.

Brooks gathered Da Costa’s header; a Chi player was nudged in the back; and the ref waved penalty appeals away when Jammeh seemingly got floored in the box.

Dunn was heavily involved as he crossed for Steve Hutchings twice, the second a free header.

And then Rowland made it 2-0 as he profited at close range from a mistake.

The Chichester management rang the changes as Ethan Prichard and Joe Moore came on for Steve Hutchings and Jammeh.

The pacey Carvalho posed problems before Prichard was soon in the thick of things, firing a Hutchings’ cross narrowly wide.

Brooks had trouble dealing with Prichard’s next effort which was turned out for a corner and hooked out.

A delicious pass got Bello in but his chest control was too heavy this time and Bay made it 3-0 as Carvalho slid in at the back post to convert Rowland’s delivery from the right with 15 minutes to go.

Olly Munt replaced Bello on 84 after Dunn headed off target.

Good work from Dunn and Prichard set up Moore for a shot which he hit true to reduce the score line in the 86th minute before in stoppage time Prichard had an attempt saved; Dunn’s header went wide and Hutchings’ corner was headed over at the death.

So, Chichester lost by the same margin for the third game in the last five.

Eighth place Chi are back at Oaklands Park against another Kent club Beckenham on Saturday 20th January 2024 (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Dunn, Rob Hutchings, Clarke, Da Costa, Cody, Bello, Honore, Steve Hutchings, Jammeh, Clack. Subs – (Jones, Moore, O’Brien, Prichard, Munt).