CHICHESTER suffered their heaviest defeat in five years, going down 8-1 to Chessington in the opening qualifying round of the FA Cup.
It wasn’t quite as bad as the 8-0 home defeat at the hands of Crowborough in March 2008, although Chessington could have easily made it into double figures.
The Combined Counties League visitors took five minutes to get off the mark when Elliott Mitchell’s free-kick was pushed on to the crossbar by Tom Cowell and Theo Woodhouse struck from the rebound.
Chichester levelled on 14 minutes when Morgan Forry’s routine shot took a deflection and slipped through the hands of Jon Williams.
Chessington restored their lead five minutes later when Woodhouse - on the left - hit a superb tightly-angled shot that ended up in the top right-hand corner of the goal.
All the action was now at the City end. Tommy Harper’s shot was just stopped by Cowell’s outstretched leg while a miraculous diving header on the line by defender Julian Boniface prevented a certain goal.
Right at the start of the second half, the referee harshly awarded Chessington a penalty after Dan Harding hit the ground, despite defender Aidan Madden making minimal contact.
Harding successfully took the spot-kick himself and, with a 3-1 lead, most spectators anticipated Chessington to take a more restrained approach for the remainder of the contest.
However an incredible four goals in a six-minute period, with Harding and Harper claiming two apiece, completely blitzkrieged the tiring City defence and made it 7-1.
Adie Oketoki should have got another, but again Boniface ghosted in from nowhere to clear the ball off the line.
The final nail in the coffin came on 89 minutes when Harding broke through again to bag his fourth goal of the day.
“We are all gutted with our display. Not good enough,” tweeted City joint boss Sean Forry afterwards.
CITY: Cowell, F Smith, Madden, Boniface, Heath, Gilbert, Groom, Killner, Gromett, Blatchford, Forry. Subs: Lee-Smith, van Driel, Boulton.