Chichester suffered a first pre-season defeat to FA Vase semi-finalists United Services Portsmouth who went ahead in the 25th minute thanks to an own goal, added a second on the half hour and a third just after the break.
The Sussex side gave minutes to a blend of regular starters, trialists and youngsters from the U18s and U23s and competed the last 30 minutes or so with 24-year-old Jamie Horncastle the oldest player on the pitch.
A number of Chi youngsters caught the eye and coach Danny Potter said, “We can look at pre-season games in two ways – one would be looking at the result, and the other would be looking at the preparation for the season.
“We look at the second side of this, so preparation of where we’re going and not what the result was.
“There is no inquest into what happened. We were beaten by a very good Step 5 side. United Services were very organised and full credit to them on the night. They caught us out on a counterattack, a set piece and a well created goal.
“What we need to do, is work out where the depth of our squad is. We gave a lot of opportunities to younger players from the 18s and 23s and also a few trialists”.
Steve Mowthorpe started in goal with Archie Cooke, who impressed in the Dave Kew Cup opener last weekend, at left back, Jack Farrier at right back and Corey Heath and Marshall Ball in the centre of defence. Matt Axell, Flori Vucay and Emmett Dunn lined up in midfield and Josh Clack, Kaleem Haitham and Ethan Prichard offered an attacking threat.
Both teams probed in the opening ten minutes and Vucay found Haitham whose cross was turned out for the first corner of the match.
Then a bit of Axell vision allowed him to pick out Haitham charging down the right flank and his cut back was latched on to by Clack only for a defender to get in a decent block.
This would be Clack’s last contribution as his quad injury flared up again and Alex Weinburger came on in his place with 12 minutes on the clock.
Moments later a super twist and turn by Prichard gave him time and space to look up for Weinburger only to over-hit the resulting pass.
Cooke then tried to get Prichard in but the 17-year-old couldn’t evade his marker.
Haitham forced another corner cutting in from the left this time that was cleared by the hosts.
United Services won a couple of corners in a rare attack in this spell as Heath turned the ball out and Cooke headed the subsequent delivery away for one on the other side.
And then the hosts went ahead from an own goal on 25 minutes when the ball cannoned off a teammate and past the hapless Mowthorpe following a mix up at the back.
Chi might have equalised immediately as Dunn and Haitham combined after the home side switched off expecting a free kick for a strong Heath challenge.
Mowthorpe didn’t have much work to do to make an easy save in the 27th minute and Haitham had a near miss at the other end.
A nice finish following a swift counter as the hosts exploited gaps doubled their advantage on the half hour.
Axell might have reduced the arrears though five minutes before the break but he couldn’t steer the ball past the keeper in a one-on-one.
Eric-Georges Dellaud and Jacob Briggs replaced Cooke and Mowthorpe for the second 45.
Brodie Spencer flashed a fierce drive into the side-netting just before a volley following a cross from the left and some errant defending made it 3-0.
Chi were somewhat rattled – United Services pulled a shot narrowly wide and then struck an upright.
The visitors pressed looking to get back into the game but Dunn lifted his effort over the bar following a good advanced run.
Charlie Oakwell-Bouton and Jamie Horncastle were sent on for Heath and Axell.
Farrier’s cross was then cleared on the hour to Prichard only for the keeper to get something on his effort.
A clever piece of skill from Prichard set up Dunn but the Canadian blazed over once more.
Weinburger next had a cross nicked off his head and Oakwood-Boulton turned and shot over.
Theo Bennetts, who bagged his first senior team goal against Pagham last time out, came on for Vucay and Akil Alleyne replaced Prichard.
Alleyne was soon in the thick of it and his super hit was somehow palmed away.
Farrier and Haitham were withdrawn for youngsters Ollie Barry and Joe Masters who both impressed in the last 20 minutes and one of them might have got on the scoresheet latching on to a ping by Oakwood-Boulton.
Weinburger thumped an attempt late on against an upright on a night when things didn’t quite click for Chi.
Potter added, “We’re still learning and we need to see players in competitive games and this was a good opportunity for that.
“We’re delighted with two individuals Joe Masters and Ollie Barry, both 16 years old, who came into the first team. They both did very well in the second half.
“One or two first team players are still coming back from injury and we’ve got a number of players we’re still considering for different positions as well.
“There’s a little bit more to work on over the coming weeks but we’re fully focussed on the task ahead. We’ve got more to do on the training ground but one thing, and the most important thing, to think about in the build up is our season will start in August, it doesn’t start in July. So, we’re going to be patient, no inquest, and we’ll make sure we get things right come the start of the season”.
There will more opportunities for City’s youngsters on Saturday 17th July as one Chi side travels to Horndean and another faces Worthing in the Dave Kew Cup final at Pagham (Kick Off times to be confirmed).
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Farrier, Cooke, Axell, Heath, Ball, Vucaj, Dunn, Clack, Haitham, Prichard. Subs – (Bennetts, Alleyne, Masters, Weinburger, Briggs, Barry, Masters, Oakwell-Boulton, Horncastle, Dellaud)