City, who came to The Sports Park with a five point lead at the top of the table had four players booked and one sent off as they struggled to contain a lively and determined Peacehaven & Telscombe side.
But although Peacehaven took the game to the title favourites, it was Alieu Secka in the home goal who was the busiest of the two goalkeepers, making the first of a series of good saves with just five minutes played.
Chichester came with a big reputation, backed up by their dominant position at the top of the table, but Peacehaven looked the better side during the opening proceedings.
Haven’s defence looked sound and solid, in midfield Cam Wiltshire and Riley Grant were outstanding and Jake Brocklebank had his best game in a Peacehaven shirt. Up front Curt Ford (pictured) led the line with energy and determination and was rewarded in the 49th minute when he headed Peacehaven into the lead after good work from substitute Gus Burton on the right who found Wiltshire on the opposite side of the pitch and his cross was headed home by Ford.
Callum Hart, with his direct runs caused the City defence all sorts of trouble. And it was one of these runs in the last few minutes of the game that saw him cynically scythed down on the edge of the box with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The game had several flashpoints which just highlighted the passion which both teams were showing. But on several occasions City did look rattled as they struggled to contain Haven’s fluid pass and move game with Tyler Scrafton’s pace causing the visitors backline all sorts of problems. He looked like he had the tools to unlock City’s stubborn defence, but was replaced at half-time after straining his groin.
But when you’ve got pace on the bench in the shape of Gus Burton, you know there is nothing to worry about, and certainly Burton delivered a top class performance.
Wiltshire’s dominance of the middle of the park was highlighted when in the 57th minute it took two City players to stop him in full flight, one receiving a yellow card when many supporters thought it should have been red.
Four minutes later Hart was taken out and City received another booking, as Hart was frustrating the visitors with his pace and direct runs.
You always felt though that Chichester had something in their locker and were more than capable of grinding something out of the game. After all, you don’t dominate the league without having a combined mind-set that says ‘we shall not be beaten’.
City were beginning to build the pressure on Peacehaven, but Haven’s defence, well marshalled by the impressive Marcus Allen coupled with excellent performances from John Elliott, Felipe Lira and Brandon Kilula held firm and looked a solid and well organised unit.
And then on 84 minutes Chichester pulled level. Hart’s pressure on the City defence resulted in a back pass being collected by Ender in the City goal. Many players and fans thought this was an illegal back pass and that Peacehaven should have been awarded a free kick. The referee saw it differently and from the resulting up field pass, the ball found its way to Sam Ndlovu. Secka came out to narrow the angle and Ndlovu slotted home to the relief of the travelling fans and City players.
For the final few minutes Peacehaven piled on the pressure which saw City reduced to ten men after Hart was pulled down with only Ender to beat and with three extra minutes played Burton found himself in a brilliant position but his shot hit the side netting with many fans thinking he had scored.
Final score, Peacehaven & Telscombe 1, Chichester City 1.
Peacehaven & Telscombe: Secka, Kilula, Lira, Grant, Elliott, Allen, Wiltshire, Brocklebank, Ford, Scrafton, Hart. Subs: Phillips, Burton, Amarteifio, Adams, Tyrell.
Peacehaven don’t have a game next Saturday but are next in action on Tuesday February 19 when they are away to Lancing.
Peacehaven & Telscombe reserves had a good 4-1 away win against AFC Ringmer on Saturday which moved them up to ninth place in the Mid Sussex Premier League.