Chichester City’s FA Cup adventure continues after a second half penalty from Gicu Iordache and an Emmett Dunn header helped them into the second qualifying round of the world’s oldest knockout football competition.
Yet to lose this season, Chalfont St Peter made the trip from south-east Buckinghamshire on the back of a dramatic 17-16 midweek penalty shootout win over fellow Isthmian south central division club Hanwell Town in the Velocity Trophy.
The hosts, like the Saints, and not for the first time this campaign, were forced into a number of changes. Chichester were without club captain Connor Cody, first team regulars Matt Axell and Jamie Horncastle and August player of the month and top scorer Scott Jones.
Miles Rutherford & Co then lost Callum Overton in the warm-up so Josh Clack, recovering from injury similar to Overton, stepped up into the starting XI.
Steve Mowthorpe returned in goal and Corey Heath partnered Ben Pashley in the centre of defence after a one-match suspension alongside full-backs Rob Hutchings and Ryan Davidson. Rory Biggs featured with Lloyd Rowlatt in midfield and Kaleem Haitham, Iordache and Clack offered support to Jimmy Wild up top.
Dunn, back at Chichester after a switch from Bognor in the week, joined fellow youth team products Theo Bennetts and Denis Gurau on the bench. Ryan Peake, his concussion protocol complete, was also named among the subs with City stalwart Ant Ender as back-up for Mowthorpe.
The Oaklands Park outfit started the better of the two sides. Davidson went close with an early opportunity in the third minute heading a Rowlatt corner narrowly over Dan Purdue’s crossbar. The 19-year-old Chalfont keeper had to punch a second corner clear moments later.
Rowlatt, given the skipper’s armband in the absence of Cody, made a super tackle on David Pitt before threading a slide rule pass towards Wild that Purdue just got to ahead of the Chi No9. At the other end Mowthorpe, certainly the less busy of the two keepers in the first half, rushed off his line quickly to cut out a ball from Ricky Brennan intended for Kofi Quartey.
Iordache next picked out Wild but his touch was too heavy and Purdue gathered easily enough. Biggs, who put in a real shift in the middle of the park, helped out a team-mate with a measured back header to Mowthorpe, who then beat Luke Jones to a through ball.
Heath, Iordache and Wild were all involved in the best move of the opening 15. Wild fed Iordache only for Man of the Match Purdue to get a glove to the Romanian’s effort.
Back to back opportunities came and went in barely a minute. First, Quartey accepted a gift from Mowthorpe and Pitt would have got in had the Chi No1 not redeemed himself with an excellent recovery and then Mowthorpe found Wild who took the ball down brilliantly put couldn’t steer it past Purdue.
Rowlatt might have given Chi a 20th minute lead but his fierce drive was diverted for a fourth corner that Purdue, so assured at other times, flapped at. His defence however, cleared their lines. The visitors lost a first player of three on the half-hour mark when Jones hobbled off to be replaced by Hakim Nyariki.
Clack was then fouled and Iordache pulled a fine save out of Purdue who tipped his set-piece over. Haitham had a shot blocked and Davidson glanced another header wide. Pitt next fired one over Mowthorpe’s bar after a nice exchange between Andre Odetola and Quartey.
In a period of pressure from the visitors before the break Mowthorpe made an impressive stop after Sean Giordmania lobbed the ball forward and Ricky Brennan blazed over.
The first five minutes after the restart were equally frenetic. Wild’s tame shot didn’t trouble Purdue and neither did Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway’s effort at the other end that was always rising but Mowthorpe did well to hold on to a curling attempt from Pitt. Purdue turned away a Wild shot and got his gloves on a powerful header by Heath this time, that he palmed out for a corner.
Chalfont’s captain Luke Elliott had to go off in the 51st minute and the visitors lost shape as a consequence. Hutchings got down the left in Chi’s next attack and found Wild who headed inches just over. Then Clack latched on to a super pass from Pashley but once again Purdue came to the Saints’ rescue.
Home fans thought their side had taken a deserved lead after an hour but Iordache’s cracking shot crashed into the side netting. Purdue turned a drive from Rowlatt round his post before some composed defending by Hutchings bailed the hosts out after a neat piece of play between Pitt and Quartey.
Dunn came on for Wild and the Canadian soon found himself in the thick of things linking up with Hutchings and Iordache. Clack wasn’t far away with a free-kick before Purdue was finally beaten in the 72nd minute from the spot after a foul on Heath in the box following a frantic spell when Haitham rattled the woodwork and Purdue somehow blocked Clack’s follow-up.
Callum Doyle might have levelled 60 seconds later but Mowthorpe got his angles right and then Dunn doubled the lead with a super header on 86 minutes that gave Purdue no chance.
The last three seasons have seen Chi make a bit of history with a run to the fifth round of the FA Vase in 2017-18 and promotion to step four this term for the first time ever.
This is the furthest the club have been in the FA Cup since their merger with Portfield at the turn of the century. They will find out who they face in the next round on Monday afternoon.
They return to league action on Saturday with a tough test away to Isthmian south east leaders Cray Valley PM (3pm).
Chichester - Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Biggs, Heath, Pashley, Clack, Rowlatt, Wild, Iordache, Haitham, Subs: Dunn, Jones, Peake, Gurau, Ender.