Chichester City take higher-division Hartley Wintney to FA Cup replay - and plum tie awaits winners

Chi City in action at Hartley Wintney / Picture: Neil Holmes
Chi City in action at Hartley Wintney / Picture: Neil Holmes

Chichester City are still in the FA Cup after they drew 0-0 at Hartley Wintney.

The teams will play it again at Oaklands Park on Tuesday evening after their first attempt ended in stalemate. And the winners will be at home to Isthmian premier side Enfield Town in Saturday week's third qualifying round draw.

Hartley, who ply their trade one step above Chi, came into the tie on the back of a 5-1 midweek win over Fareham Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup, while Chichester saw top spot disappear with their 1-0 defeat to Three Bridges at Oaklands Park on Tuesday.

The Hampshire club put a decent FA Cup run together in 2013-14 and were a game away from the first round proper before losing at home to Daventry Town.

Chichester’s one and only appearance in the first round proper came in 1960-61 when they suffered a heavy defeat to Bristol City and on another occasion towards the end of the 1960s,they missed out when a 3-0 defeat to Guildford in a replay in the fourth qualifying round sent them out of the cup.

In the 60 years or so since that lone main draw appearance, Chichester have generally struggled in the cup. They’ve fallen at the first hurdle eight times in the past nine seasons but this year the club were one of only 19 to have won three matches to get to this stage, and with 12 goals Chi travelled to Hartley Wintney as the second highest scorers left in the competition.

The first five minutes here were something else. Joint top scorer Scott Jones, back in the starting X1 after an injury lay-off, won a corner after barely 60 seconds that the Row keeper Luke Williams punched clear. The hosts broke down the right and Ty Smith forced a smart save out of Chi custodian Steve Mowthorpe. The ball came out to Josh Webb, whose shot, much to Mowthorpe’s relief, cannoned off the post and into his arms.

Captain Connor Cody then almost picked out Jones before fellow centre back Corey Heath tidied up under pressure from Jack Ball. Next Gicu Iordache robbed Shane Hollamby and drove forward. A heavy touch however, by the Romanian, allowed Williams to get to the ball first. Hartley’s Alex Albert got something, but not quite enough, on a Matt Drage free-kick.

After this frantic opening spell things settled down. The football wasn’t always pretty and the players had a bobbly pitch basking in September sun to contend with, but chances came and went at both ends. A super piece of skill from Jones bringing a long kick down from Mowthorpe enabled him to get a shot off. This was blocked by a Hartley defender, as was Iordache’s follow-up.

Ryan Davidson got his body in the way of a fierce effort from close range after a dangerous cross by Mickel Platt. Platt, who had a real duel with Heath all game, caused trouble again but Heath got a boot on his attempt and Mowthorpe gathered. Iordache then skewed a shot wide just before the drinks break and Mowthorpe was in the thick of it once more punching clear after a throw-in was flicked on into the box.

In a spell where the hosts looked the more likely to score Ball glanced a Webb cross over, Emmett Dunn hooked away another delivery from the Hartley No11 and Mowthorpe came out and took convincingly. There were opportunities too for Josh Clack and Jones but the former couldn’t keep a shot down and the latter headed over.

Platt might have done better on 37 minutes but blazed wide before things opened up for Lloyd Rowlatt after a mazy run, only for the midfielder to drill an effort off target. On the stroke of half time Heath did well to clear a free-kick from Webb following a neat exchange between Hollamby and Sal Abubakar and then Matt Axell got a timely block in to deny Platt. Webb found Ball with the resulting corner, who headed over again.

Chichester forged the first opportunity after the interval but Iordache wasn’t able to get to Jones’ delivery. Then Smith wasn’t far away with a header, latching on to a cross from Webb, who posed a regular threat.

Jones tried desperately to undo the Row back four on 53 minutes but he lost the ball. The hosts countered and Abubakar and Webb created a chance that was cleared but only as far as Tom Bird who pulled a fine stop out of Mowthorpe. Referee Hugh Gilroy dished out the game’s first yellow card just before the hour mark after a foul on Jones. Axell’s set-piece, however, didn’t trouble Williams.

The home side should have made more of a spell they dominated. First Mowthorpe rose to beat Platt to a high cross from Bird; then Cody blocked a cross by Webb, before Heath cleared another one whipped in by Bird; and Ball could have done better with his cut back. For Chi, Jones hit one narrowly wide and Rowlatt went close after nice play from Iordache, Heath and Dunn.

Chi changed it up in the 65th minute with Jimmy Wild replacing Axell. Matt Drage and Web linked up effectively in the hosts’ next move as Hartley forced a couple of corners.

There were two heart in the mouth moments for Chi fans when a Platt cross-come-shot just drifted away from the goal and a freak deflection off Dunn might have given the hosts the lead. Kaleem Haitham came on for Iordache and Jones, named MoM, headed not far off with ten to go.

The home side also made changes with substitute Jack French instrumental in winning a corner that Heath managed to clear. Clack found Jones who nodded the ball towards Wild in the box but it was an awkward one and Wild, who scored the opener against Cray Valley last weekend, couldn’t get the kind of purchase on it that he would have liked.

The referee waved away 85th minute penalty appeals after French went down as an onrushing Mowthorpe came out to save low down and preserve a third clean sheet in four games. Davidson got a towering header on the subsequent corner that sent Chi surging forward only for Drage to keep his cool with a fine bit of defending just before the final whistle.

The two sides will go again in the replay on Tuesday night under the lights at Oaklands Park (7:45pm).

Chichester: Mowthorpe, Davidson, Hutchings, Axell, Cody, Heath, Clack, Rowlatt, Jones, Dunn, Iordache. Subs: Peake, Biggs, Horncastle, Pashley, Haitham.