Stalemate is no surprise for Chichester City and Guernsey
Chichester City had to settle for a share of the spoils with Guernsey in a tight game that might have gone either way.
A close one was probably on the cards given the sides’ current form. Guernsey lost last time out in the league but had gone five games unbeaten beforehand in an impressive run that included draws with table-toppers Hastings and second placed Cray Valley PM, and victories over fourth-placed Ashford United and sixth-placed Sevenoaks.
Guernsey travel well and have picked up more points away than they have at home this season.
Chichester suffered a heavy defeat at Hastings in their last league game after going unbeaten in the previous four Isthmian south east matches.
Miles Rutherford & Co made a couple of changes to the XI that started against the Us. Ryan Peake came in for November player of the month Connor Cody at the back and Emmett Dunn partnered Matt Axell in the middle of the park. A fit-again Gicu Iordache joined Jamie Horncastle, Rory Biggs, Theo Bennetts and George Cody on the bench.
The referee brandished the first of seven yellow cards in the sixth minute when Dunn was hauled back by Carlos Canha as the Canadian looked to get Chi on the attack. Moments later Guernsey top scorer Ross Allen missed the opening chance of the game when he latched on to a poor Ryan Davidson header back to keeper Steve Mowthorpe.
Allen, with four goals in his previous five games, couldn’t keep his shot down and passed up another opportunity in the next move after a shaky Chi defence failed to clear their lines. Keanu Marsh then fired an effort into the side-netting as the home side struggled to get a foothold.
Josh Clack, wearing the skipper’s armband, had the first shot for the hosts in the 13th minute but it was an ambitious one from a difficult angle. Then Kieran Mahon fouled Kaleem Haitham. Axell’s free-kick, however, eluded Dunn and Scott Jones. Lloyd Rowlatt struck Callum Stanton in the chest with a fierce drive that the Guernsey keeper gathered at the second attempt.
At the other end Canha got away from Rob Hutchings to meet a cross from the left but volleyed over. And on 20 minutes Stanton’s counterpart Steve Mowthorpe was off his line swiftly to beat Liam Mahon to an intelligent pass from sixteen year old Alex Scott who’s just signed a two-year contract with Bristol City.
A super challenge next from Man of the Match Rowlatt and pass to Haitham sent the nippy forward on his way. Haitham danced past a defender or two but didn’t really trouble Stanton with his shot. Axell then picked out Jones who took the ball brilliantly on his chest but couldn’t find a finish to match.
Chances came and went for both sides around the half hour mark. Liam Mahon tested Mowthorpe; Jones headed wide a Davidson delivery; Axell tidied up calmly after a Peake mistake presented Allen a gift; Clack failed to get a decent connection on Jones’ cross; and Corey Heath made an excellent tackle to deny the dangerous Allen. Then just before the break Clack’s effort proved too hot to handle for Stanton. Stanton spilled the ball to Jones but made amends with a double save from the Chi striker.
Mowthorpe got a strong glove to a Scott rocket two minutes after the re-start before Peake went close with a header. Jones then gathered the ball skilfully with his chest again but dragged his effort wide and Haitham controlled a mis-hit goal kick only to shoot straight at Stanton. Matthew Loaring fired over for the visitors and Axell drilled one inches wide before there was a heart in mouth moment for Guernsey fans when Haitham’s cut-back was deflected just past the post for a corner.
The away team broke quickly from this and Canha pulled a fine stop out of Mowthorpe. Hutchings and Dunn then linked up nicely but Clack’s attempt was always rising. Jones was crowded out looking to pull the trigger before Heath forced Stanton into a spectacular tip-over with 15 minutes to go.
If Chi were second best in the first half, the second half was one they edged but the goal wouldn’t come. Allen might have got a smash and grab winner but shot tamely at Mowthorpe.
It was Chi’s first goalless draw in a home league game in 16 months.
Chichester are 12th, with three or four games in hand on other teams. Chi are back in league action at home under the lights on Tuesday against Ashford United (7:45pm). The Oaklands Park pitch cut up pretty badly at the weekend and more rain is forecast before the Ashford game. Updates will be shared on social media and the club’s official website.
Chichester: Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Axell, Peake, Heath, Clack, Dunn, Jones, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs – Iordache, Horncastle, Biggs, Bennetts, George Cody.