Another comeback win for Chichester City in the FA Cup
Second half goals from Kaleem Haitham and Lloyd Rowlatt gave Chichester a third successive comeback win in this season’s FA Cup.
There were three changes to the starting XI that lost to then joint league leaders Whyteleafe last time out. Rob Hutchings came in at left back; Gicu Iordache lined up on one of the flanks; and Matt Axell returned to midfield.
The Buckinghamshire based visitors, who ply their trade in Division One East of the Hellenic League, were one of only two Step 6 sides to make it to the second qualifying round this year and came into the match brimming with confidence on the back of an impressive unbeaten run.
Half chances at both ends came and went in the opening five minutes.
Corey Heath found Scott Jones with a nice pass but Jones’ cross intended for seventeen-year-old Ethan Prichard at the far post nicked off a defender and out to safety.
Hutchings did well to cover as Marcus Wyllie got past Ben Pashley and then moments later pinged in a delivery towards Jones that was just too high for the hosts’ striker to get a header on target.
Next Rowlatt fed a through ball to Jones but the referee’s assistant raised his flag for offside.
Rowlatt was then involved with Hutchings in a quick break only for Prichard’s effort to drift wide of the goal without enough curl.
The visitors might have taken the lead in the 10th minute after Axell conceded a free-kick for a foul on Brian Haule but Adam Morris’ set-piece was headed narrowly wide.
Rangers earned the first corner of the game in the following attack when a Wyllie cross cannoned off Hutchings. Morris took a smart short one and the ball finally broke for Haule who swung and missed.
Chichester then broke as Prichard’s lovely pass found Cody only for keeper Jack Brooker to collect the Chi captain’s cross easily enough.
It should have been 1-0 to Risborough after 16 minutes. Wyllie played in Sam Pekun but the No11 fluffed his lines with a tame effort that Cody dealt with on the line.
Emmett Dunn had an opportunity next as Rowlatt picked him out, however, he elected to take a touch when a first time shot might have been the better option.
Rowlatt then found Hutchings at the back stick but he couldn’t keep his powerful shot down.
Steve Mowthorpe rushed out sharply to get to the ball ahead of Wyllie before Iordache had an attempt brilliantly saved by Brooker at the mid-point.
Brooker was called on again to deny Rowlatt, gathering the ball at the second attempt under pressure from Prichard.
And the Rangers keeper was on hand once more when he tipped over an Iordache effort after a super twist and turn by the Romanian in the box. Brooker palmed away Axell’s subsequent corner and then calmly claimed the next one.
Iordache had another shot charged down on the half hour mark before Pekun burst down the left but gave away a needless foul as he cut inside.
The hosts fell behind for the third FA Cup qualifying match in a row in the 33rd minute when Risborough broke on the other wing after the ball was lost in midfield. Wyllie teed up Haule with a measured pass and the No9 tucked the ball beyond Mowthorpe.
Chichester could have been back on level terms almost immediately when a ball from Axell for Jones bounced awkwardly for the covering defender. Jones got to it but lobbed both Brooker and the bar.
Iordache, who was arguably City’s stand-out player in the first half, saw his shot on the turn deflect off an opponent following good work by Dunn and Prichard.
And then Jones attempted a spectacular acrobatic effort with the interval five minutes away.
Risborough forged a couple of opportunities too but Davis Haule fired over after Chi struggled to clear and seconds later Morris skewed one wide.
Axell then got Chi going forward when he stole away from another Rangers corner and found Prichard who might have levelled but lifted his shot over.
The hosts forced a flurry of corners in stoppage time but Brooker got a glove on the first of these; tipped the second over; and the third one was just too high for Jones.
Miles Rutherford & Co rang the changes at the interval with Haitham, in his first game in a month or so after a knock in pre-season, and Rory Biggs coming on for Prichard and Heath.
A heavy tackle on Iordache earned Chichester a free-kick that Axell directed towards Dunn and Jones but the visitors smuggled it out for a corner as Chi players appealed for a handball.
Iordache wasn’t far away with a shot from the edge of the box and then a robust but well-timed challenge by Biggs instigated an exchange between Rowlatt and Iordache with the ball falling to Haitham who stung Brooker’s gloves.
Jones then drilled a fierce shot over the woodwork and a couple of minutes later struck a set-piece inches wide after Axell was upended just outside the penalty area.
The home side were getting into the game now and Haitham had an effort blocked and gave Brooker some trouble with a follow up on the hour.
Rowlatt should have equalised in the 65th minute from a free header after a pinpoint Haitham delivery.
Mowthorpe, who’d had little to do since the restart, palmed away a Pekun cross and got a strong hand to steer a shot from Gary Rymer across goal as the right back made an excellent run into the box.
It was all square moments later as Haitham hauled his side back into the tie with a shot that took a deflection on its way past Brooker.
The Rangers back four then cleared an Axell cross before super skill from the midfielder gave him a shooting opportunity that went narrowly wide.
Next the ever dangerous Wyllie broke down the left and played a pass towards Pekun but Pashley read things well and got in first to guide the ball back to his keeper.
Chichester came at Risborough again and Dunn sent in an inviting delivery that Jones couldn’t quite reach.
The Canadian was instrumental in the winner breaking into the box before passing to Rowlatt who found the back of the net with a telling touch.
Lloyd Rowlatt wheels away to celebrate his 75th minute winner (Photo: Neil Holmes)
Biggs burst through the middle with 10 to go but his delivery was headed clear before Axell teed up Biggs for a shot that was just the wrong side of the post.
Then Rowlatt had another go after a lovely touch as he latched on to a cheeky back-heel from Iordache in a move that drew applause from the Oaklands Park faithful.
The visitors changed it up late on bringing on Bertie Squire-Adams and Martin Griggs.
Jones did well to head a Wyllie ball in from the left out for a corner that Dunn cleared and then a good take by Mowthorpe put an end to a swift counter attack in time added on.
The hosts, as they had done in the matches with Basingstoke and Cribbs in the previous two rounds, struggled in the early stages but found a way to turn things round after the break and will be in the hat for the draw in the next qualifying round of the world’s oldest knockout competition.
Chi are back in league action next away at early pace setters VCD Athletic on Tuesday 6th October before welcoming Haywards Heath on Saturday 10th October.
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Hutchings, Heath, Cody, Pashley, Iordache, Rowlatt, Jones, Prichard, Dunn, Axell. Subs – (Overton, Haitham, Ndlovu, Bennetts, Biggs, Oakwell-Boulton, Ender)