Jimmy Wild goes close for Chi (Picture: Kate Shemilt)
It was one of those days where nothing would go right for Chi and a plucky performance by the visitors and a poor one by the home side turned the form book on its head as Miles Rutherford's side suffered a second home defeat of the season.
Eighteen places separated the teams in the SCFL premier division and Chichester came into the match on the back of five straight wins in the league whilst Littlehampton's last league win was in mid-November. When the teams met in September in the reverse fixture Chi were 3-0 winners with Ben Pashley and Scott Jones (2) on target.
Omens of an upset were there perhaps as early as the fourth minute when Alfie Gritt played Lucas Pattenden in behind the City defence only for Ant Ender to get off his line and claim.
A couple of minutes later Jimmy Wild, on a streak of six goals in three games, almost hooked the ball in past Golds keeper Jack Collins after he spilled a Ruben French free-kick.
Then Rob Hutchings and Scott Murfin linked up nicely but Hutchings' shot lacked the kind of power to trouble Collins.
A raking cross-field pass picked out Kieran Hartley on the left. Hartley fed the ball on to Lorenzo Dolcetti who took a touch and squared it to Murfin but his shot cannoned off a defender.
Ellis Martin then had to clear the ball off the line at the other end after a slip by skipper Jack Lee gave Pattenden an opportunity that Ender could only get something on.
The home side carved out more openings but couldn't take any. In the 21st minute Murfin fired over the bar and then had another half-chance but needed to turn quicker and hit it after good work from Wild and Hartley.
Collins pulled off a super save just after the half hour mark palming Wild's header on to the woodwork. Moments later Wild got in again after a bit of skill out wide and tried ambitiously to beat the keeper at the near post. Dave Herbert then tried his luck from distance but his shot was high and wide.
Things heated up as the break approached. On 41 minutes Hutchings almost lobbed the Littlehampton keeper but his effort found the side-netting. Next Liam Humphreys tested Ender before Wild flashed one wide of the post.
Herbert's brother Steve got the game's only goal on the stroke of half time slotting the ball past Ender after Pattenden out-paced his marker. The acrobatic celebration was something else.
In time added on for lengthy stoppages whilst Wild and Ender received treatment on different occasions Dolcetti was unlucky not to see a corner drift in under the bar and had a drive deflected for another corner on the line.
Chances came and went early on after the break.
Within a minute of the re-start both Herbert and Wild struggled to get shots off as defenders crowded them out and then Hartley had a free header when a cross was whipped in from the left but was unable to direct it goal-bound.
Pattenden, who posed a threat all game, forced Ender into action on 48 minutes and linked up with Herbert in the next Littlehampton attack and made Ender work again.
City boss Rutherford went with three at the back in the 56th minute and replaced Hartley and Pashley with Kaleem Haitham and David Mendes-Borges.
The visitors defended resolutely and refused to be broken down.
Then after a burst of pace from Haitham with some twenty minutes to go and a bit of trickery from Murfin in the box won Chi a penalty.
Martin's spot kick however was too close to Collins and Littlehampton still had a 1-0 lead to protect as the keeper turned Martin's effort round his left hand post.
Herbert, Haitham and Wild all tested Collins and his back four. Ryan Peake replaced Hutchings and joined the forward line as City sought to get something out of the game in the last ten with a direct approach. The last sub might have pulled one back for his side but headed into the side-netting on 86 minutes.
Then against the run of play Pattenden timed his run from his own half on to a long ball to perfection and but for an untimely bobble might have doubled the lead.
The referee turned down a Chi penalty appeal in some five minutes of time added on and both Murfin and Haitham had fierce shots blocked.
With Pagham, Haywards Heath, Eastbourne Town and Peacehaven all dropping points in what was another weekend of shocks in this see-saw season Chichester missed out on a golden opportunity to put a bit of distance between themselves and other title rivals.
Three Bridges leapfrog Chi into second place, one point ahead. The two teams meet at Oaklands Park on Tuesday.
Chichester – Ender, Martin, French, Lee, Hartley, Dolcetti, Pashley, Hutchings, Herbert, Murfin, Wild. (Subs: Peake, Williamson, Lis, Mendes-Borges, Haitham)
Updated 11:20 - 26 Feb 2018 by Ian Worden