An absorbing contest finished all square as, once again, Chichester City gave us our sternest test of the Summer so far; although the first real chance didn’t come until nearly fifteen minutes in, thanks to the tenacious tackling of Scott Jones that saw him win the ball off Danny Barker on the left. His pass inside to early substitute, Ethan Pritchard led to the lively youngster forcing Roco Rees to palm over the top, one-handed, as he let fly twenty yards out.
The same player then flashed a low delivery across the penalty area from the other side that, somehow went unpunished and straight out the other side for a goal-kick.
Approaching the midway point of the opening period and the visitors conceded a penalty when Captain, Aarran Racine swung his right boot, missed the ball and connected instead with Jones. Former Worthing striker, Josh Clack comfortably dispatched the spot-kick, sending Rees the wrong way.
It only took the away side five minutes to find an equaliser though and it was Tom Chalaye who made no mistake, when he reacted quickest to slam home the rebound after Ollie Pearce’s initial direct deadball had come back off the post.
Chi almost regained the lead moments later, only for Lloyd Rowlatt’s attempt to sail narrowly over the crossbar as he pounced on a weak header by Jesse Starkey.
Rowlatt was more effective shortly before the break, when a quick and incisive counter-attack resulted in him slipping in Emmett Dunn and the Canadian slotted past Roco.
There was still enough left on the clock though for Starkey to have a powerful strike blocked in the box by a sea of green and white and Jasper Pattenden to get past two men down the left but not goalie, Steve Mowthorpe at his front stick.
Having grown into the game in the latter stages of the first forty-five, Red’s continued to play on the front foot with Pearce curling low but marginally wide of the far upright, following the resumption.
Rees then earned his corn with two fine saves in quick succession. Firstly, denying central-defender, Corey Heath – against his old club – from point-blank range and pulling off an identical piece of good work to stop the diving Jones from burying a header as he got on the end of a right-sided Clack Cross.
Not to be outdone, Mowthorpe performed similar heroics up the other end by standing tall to keep out Pattenden, then preventing Ricky Aguiar’s fierce shot from beating him after Pearce’s byline ball inside to Reece Myles-Meekums had seen the latter tee Ricky up.
Aguiar tried his luck further out on the left-hand side but the host’s number one spooned his free-kick up and away to safety.
A second set-piece brought about the leveller just past the hour mark; Pearce driving in a loose ball in the eighteen-yard box.
Only the width of the crossbar prevented City going back in front a short while later and Meekums almost picked out sub, Mo Jannah at the back stick as the contest continued to ebb and flow.
An inch-perfect crossfield pass by Starkey dropped nicely at the feet of Pattenden who, in turn, played on to Pearce but despite his twisting and turning he put his effort behind.
Dunn looked to nab a winner, though his flick to a Matt Axell free-kick lacked the power to trouble Rees.
Ahmed Kamil-Hassan had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds when it took an immaculately-timed tackle by Heath to keep the scores level, after Meekums’ byline pullback had left him seemingly unmarked in the six-yard area.
The final serious chance of the evening fell to the home team and, following a neat build-up between the evergreen Axell and Rowlatt, the latter’s subsequent attempt was blocked by a red shirt.
Match Report: Gareth Nicholas