Basingstoke were worthy 26-16 winners of a tense and physical game in London one south - but Chichester made them work very hard for the points despite being hampered by injuries.
They were without their vastly-experienced tight-head prop Phil Veltom while Stoke were at full-strength with the return of talented fly-half Adam Davies.
He and scrum-half Fish excelled with tricky footwork and kicks which found some gaps. Chichester competed hard and had good spells in the first and last quarters but were second best on the day.
The margin was three tries, three penalties and one conversion to one try, three penalties and one conversion.
However there was no bonus point and Chi stay second ih the league, one point ahead of Basingstoke.
Joe Woods replaced Veltom and Matt Corrigan was on the bench as prop replacement. Chi welcomed back Chris Johnson, Tim Cook and Nick Blount.
The pitch was sticky but reasonable condition after the rain. A big crowd reflected the importance of the match.
Blues started brightly and a Billy Toone tap penalty led to a brisk crossfield attack with good passing and Cook making ground on the left wing. But a poor kick out of their 22 gave Davies the chance for a half break and a penalty to Stoke for holding on, which he slotted.
Chi won a penalty and Stoke argued and were marched back three times, Richard Adams kicking the three points from their 22 line.
There was an eruption between the players in midfield and the referee warned both captains to control things.
Davies kicked a second penalty and a third when Johnson made a rash tackle and was given a yellow card. He was joined in the sin bin soon after by Stoke No8 Ford, who made a very late tackle on Toby Golds after the full-back had cleared his lines.
Chi supporters rose to their feet when Sam Renwick made a stunning break and sprinted 45 metres. A try looked certain but a fast Stoke defender cut him off and tackled five metres short.
Stoke infringed at a scrum and Adams made it 9-6 with a confident penalty. Jack Bentall was injured and limped for the rest of the game.
Stoke applied pressure and Golds made a saving tackle on the left wing, and when the ball was switched across, Stoke were forced into the right touch. Finally winger Buttle stepped past tackles in the centre and quick hands sent outside centre Gleadowe over at the left flag. The conversion was missed and it was 14-6.
Renwick made another lightning break but outpaced the support and the chance was lost. Woods suffered a leg injury and had to go off and was replaced by Corrigan.
At lineouts, Niall Goldie was catching and giving competently and the back row was coping well but mostly on the back foot.
The front five were having a hard time at the coalface and had more bad luck when Corrigan was struck on the back of his head and knocked out for several minutes. At half-time, Chichester trailed 14-6 and needed a try.
Replacements Nick Blount and Henry Luxton came out at lock and on the wing. There was a promising restart and Blues mauled hard.
Stoke infringed to stop them and Adams obliged with his third successful kick.
Chichester defended stoutly but scrums ten metres out sapped strength and quick passing across the backs drew the cover for Gleadowe to score again. Davies added the extras.
Johnson and Moses Kasujja tried hard to break out but met Stoke’s firm second defensive line. Buttle had a superb run to the right corner for Stoke but Golds and Adams did very well to hold him up.
Corrigan had to retire and the scrums went uncontested.
At 21-9, a losing bonus point was possible and Chichester started to keep possession and not kick for territory hoping to get a try. But this was not likely to work from within their own 22 and the killer blow resulted.
Stoke knocked on 25 metres out but got away with it and Davies kicked accurately over the top, winger Kelly winning the race to touch down. Now Chichester could seek only a consolation.
They persevered and scored the best try of the game. A flowing move the length of the field with forwards and backs combining to beat several tackles and Goldie went over next to the posts. Adams converted.
Luxton had two powerful runs with Johnson assisting and Kasujja showed his attacking strength but all too late.
A Golds clean catch foiled the last Stoke raid.
Chichester director of rugby Paul Colley said: “It was a very tough match and keenly contested. We missed Phil Veltom and Stoke had a definite edge up front.
“Their tactical kicking was impressive and half-backs and wingers in good form. We competed and had some good play, especially in the last 20 minutes whan all was not lost.”
Chichester supporters were pleased to greet after the game their most senior member - 95-years-young Doug Stroud, who enjoyed his Guinness in the clubhouse.
This Saturday, Chichester host Haywards Heath (2.15pm). All support welcome.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Lawrence, Shopland, O’Callaghan, Goldie, Kasujja, Polhill, Johnson, Toone, Adams, Cook, Bentall, Renwick, Jackson, Golds, Corrigan, Blount, Luxton.