2020/21 has truly been a strange season. Stoppages, expunging the league record, and resuming competition again in the form of the strangely named ‘Supplementary Shield’

Chichester City’s Under 23 side have a chance of bringing silverware to the clubs trophy cabinet when they take on local rivals Pagham on Thursday at Lashmar Road, East Preston.

We caught up with Chichester City U23 Manager Max Powell to ask him how he felt the season and the cup run had gone?

“Thursday nights game will be a cracker. A local derby we are very much looking forward to!”
Max Powell

Chichester City U23 manager Max Powell. Photo: Neil Holmes

How Were the team doing in the league before it was stopped?

“We truly had an excellent start to our season. We were a completely new squad of players which made it more impressive. I was overwhelmed with the attitude and desire of all the players, management, and the club as a whole. Every week was a headache as to who would make the squad. As a manager you can simply ask for nothing more to have players and coaches who put everything into the badge.

When the league came to a swift close, naturally everybody was gutted. It really took the wind out of our sails as I am sure it did to everyone. It is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without football! Credit to the players, they kept fit through doing 5k runs and I believe the record was 17minutes 28 seconds. The lads will do anything for competition even running!”.

How did it feel when competitive games were allowed to resume?

“It was Probably the biggest relief of the year when football returned. Even in the form of the supplementary cup, it gave us as a squad something to build towards. In all honesty the lads have come back seamlessly into the same mentality as before. These lads want to get better in every session which makes them a pleasure to manage. I think the players and coaches are happy to be cracking on and the end goal is of course to improve players and get everyone enjoying football again”.

Callum Overton scores against Ferring. Photo: Neil Holmes 

It’s been a very successful cup run to date, what’s your view?

“The cup has gone really quickly. We started off with a tough local derby against Pagham which was a great game. Lots of good individual performances but did not feel we played to our potential as a team and conceded two sloppy set pieces. We then travelled to East Preston which is always a hard place to go and play. The lads really kicked on a gear in this game. A great all round team performance scoring four good goals.

Our third game saw us host Worthing United at home. This went from being one of the most frustrating halves of football to one of the most incredible second halves of football I had seen in a long time. Worthing were superb at the back in the first half and near impossible to break down. After a few tactical changes second half we just blew them away with relentless football.

We then carried this on against Ferring in our 4th game which was by far our best performance of the season. Everyone has played their part this season and in this cup. I have managed to field near on every player which has been great for me to see different combinations and lads fighting for the shirt”.

Ethan Pritchard put city one up again Pagham in the first cup game. Photo: Neil Holmes

Tell us about the semi-final win at Horley Town?

“The semi-final against Horley Town was really one for the neutrals. A fantastic game and one that was incredibly tough. The first half we can safely say Horley deserved to be ahead and created the majority of good chances. However, second half I feel we really kicked on a gear yet again. In pursuit of an equaliser, we threw everything at them and with that risk, we nearly got punished the other end.

A 90th minute equaliser from Callum Overton took us to penalties. Our penalty takers were Ice cold slotting all our spot kicks and massive credit to Jacob Briggs who was phenomenal. Obviously to come back against a great side like that was incredible and the buzz around the boys was for all to see. Horley Town deserve massive credit and on another day that could have gone either way”.

“Managing a side like this has been amazing. The club truly has an exceptionally talented group of players coming through its development system. The coaching staff of Noah Hustler, James Feist, and Gary Clarke work hard with the lads every week. I cannot begin to describe the amount of work they do. I know the lads have a great deal of respect for all of them.

We as a team Honestly would not be the same without them! I could go on and on about everyone who gives up their time to help us out. All the members in the club from chairman, U18/23 co-ordinator, physio’s, 1st team management/coaches, kit man, groundman, photographer and many many more have played a massive part in our ability to be successful as a section.

All these people are crucial Coggs in our machine that is driving young players to develop. My aim has always been for players to come through the club and push for first team spots. We have achieved that this year, with many players getting 1st team appearances this season”.

“Thursday nights game will be a cracker. A local derby we are very much looking forward to!”.

We asked Dan Wood, Theo Bennetts and Jacob Briggs for their reaction to an exciting Semi Final win at Horley Town.

Defender, Dan Wood

“Getting to the final feels amazing!”
Dan Wood

Dan Wood scores against Ferring. Photo: Neil Holmes

“Getting to the final feels amazing but well deserved also. We all fully believe the squad was strong enough to win the league before it was null and void, so after the past year with the pandemic and a lack of football, it’s a really nice feeling to be in with a chance of gaining some silverware.

Obviously after winning such a tight and hard fought semi final on penalties, it feels extra special to be in the final and again fully shows the strength of this entire squad and it is all fully deserved. Pagham will be a tough challenge and we’ve had some tight games with them this season, but the boys are all prepared and fully up for the challenge. From a personal point of view, it’s been such a good feeling being back out on the pitch after playing next to no football over the last 12 months.

It’s all been capped off with a few important goals that have been a personal highlight, but the best feeling has been seeing how well this squad has gelled this season and it’s down to every single coach and player that we have reached this final. All that’s left is to try our best to win on Thursday which will bring what has been a strange but amazing season to an end!”.

Captain, Theo Bennetts

“Scoring a late equaliser is a proper buzz!”
Theo Bennetts

”As a team we took a little time to find our feet in the game. They scored in the first half and I think they rose to the occasion quicker than us- we took a while to get out of the blocks.

However in the second half we really hit our stride. We were knocking on the door, and even though Horley had some big chances, the more they missed (including a penalty) the more we felt it was our night.

Finally the goal came and it gave us a huge boost. I’d say it was nothing less than we deserved. Scoring a late equaliser is a proper buzz, but there was also a lot of relief that we’d finally scored.

Going into the shootout our confidence was sky high having just equalised. You could tell just from body language that we were far more in the zone than Horley were. The late goal really took it out of them understandably.

I was always going to take a penalty but I tend to take them earlier in the shootout. I got told I was fourth and thought it might be me to have the deciding penalty.

We were way ahead and I had Callum after me so I felt pretty confident. I scored which was a great feeling, it felt nice to seal the deal. However, Jake our keeper was excellent in the shootout and I wouldn’t of had the chance to put us through if it wasn’t for him.

Pagham in the final will be a real test but we’re all buzzing for it”.

Goalkeeper, Jacob Briggs

“After saving the first one, I kind of knew I was in their heads”
Jacob Briggs

“When the full time whistle went and we found out it was going straight to pens I felt like I couldn’t let the team down after they did so well to score so late on.

Before the shoot-out started Dan Potter came up to me and told me the striker (who missed a pen in the game) was going to go to my bottom right and that’s exactly what happened, so after saving the first one I kind of knew I was in their heads.

I did all I could to put the players off and looked at their run ups to guess which way they where going. The second penalty went over but I went the right way and on the third I went the right way again but he scored, it was all down to the boys who scored theirs for us and they kept their heads”.