In their first game after chairman Brent Williams’ departure, Chichester City lost top spot with a below-par performance in front of a large crowd on Non-League Day, drawing 1-1 with Horsham YMCA.
Chichester had to settle for a share of the points with Ollie Gill’s early opener cancelled out by Dave Herbert.
YMCA, touted by many as title contenders before the start of the season, had won four out of their past five and flew out of the blocks with Ant Ender doing well to get down to a Sam Schaaf chance after only two minutes.
Sixty seconds later after City defenders missed opportunities to clear, Gill put YM ahead, lifting the ball into the top corner.
It took City 15 minutes to get going but tricky Italian Lorenzo Dolcetti forced a smart save out of Aaron Jeal from a free-kick that looked to be going in at the near post.
Dolcetti continued to pull the strings with an assist for Herbert’s equaliser in the 23rd minute that might have opened up the game.
Strong link up play between the pair created other opportunities – Herbert had a header turned round the upright after a super Dolcetti cross and the scorer spurned a short corner from the midfielder, firing over the bar.
A golden chance fell to Josh Clack on 28 minutes but he could only head down and wide after a promising build-up that involved Dolcetti and City player of September Scott Jones.
Herbert almost scored from a half-volley from 35 yards which lobbed the keeper and smacked the frame of the goal.
YMCA finished the half strongly with efforts from Gill and skipper Tom Gilbert.
The home side began the second half as they had the first and Gill, a threat throughout, hit the City post within a minute of the restart.
Jones, with 12 goals in the league in September, squandered two chances early on. Jeal had to move quickly to deny the No9 before Jones stabbed a shot wide from the corner.
Gill and Herbert flashed good opportunities over the bar before Jones did find the net on the hour, only for the referee to chalk it off for an apparent push.
Clack’s free kick that was a whisker over the bar, followed by a comedic goal-line scramble where Jones and Herbert couldn’t convert, got Chi fans feeling it wasn’t going to be their day.
Clack had one last opportunity but was denied by Jeal, and YMCA could have nicked it – Dave Brown firing over when he should have done better.
Chichester: Ender, Watts, Hartley, French, Lee, Martin, Clack, Hegarty, Jones, Herbert, Dolcetti. Subs (Hutchings, Kanjanda, Williams, Smith, Pashley).
Chichester visit Newhaven on Saturday.
Loxwood 2 Chichester City 4
City made it four points for the week when they won at Loxwood on Tuesday night – but the Magpies didn’t let them have it all their own way.
They had the ideal start when goal machine Scott Jones put them ahead a minute into the match and Dan Hegarty doubled the lead on 28 minutes.
An own goal brought Loxwood back to 2-1 early in the second half before Josh Clack restored the two-goal advantage with 16 minutes left. Loxwood scored again but Dave Herbert’s stoppage-time strike made the points safe.