A spectacular first half acrobatic strike by Scott Jones gave Chi the lead in this encounter at Five Heads Park but Horndean bounced back after the break to condemn Chichester to a second pre-season loss in five days.
Coach Danny Potter, who described Jones’ goal as ‘outstanding’, added, “It was great to have him back in the first game he’s featured in pre-season so far.
“Scott Jones leading as a No9 gives us a bit more identity in how we can play and how we can use our frontline”.
Potter was joined by manager Miles Rutherford, assistant manager Graeme Gee and fellow coach Darin Killpartrick in the dug-out for the first occasion in a long while and starts were handed to six players from the XI who began the match against United Services Portsmouth last time out.
Steve Mowthorpe returned in goal, Flori Vucay dropped from midfield to right back, Matt Axell lined up in his customary No4 position, with Ethan Prichard, Emmett Dunn and Kaleem Haitham offering support for Jones up top in his opening game. Rob Hutchings came back in on the left side of the defensive line, Charlie Oakwell-Boulton partnered Lewis Hyde, who played for Chi in the third qualifying round FA Cup match when Chichester gave National League South side Tonbridge Angels a scare at Oaklands last season, at centre back, and Jamie Horncastle, in midfield, got the captain’s armband.
The opening 10 minutes or so of a game played in glorious sunshine on an excellent surface were lively.
The Deans forced a corner in the third minute that came to nothing and moments later Jones won one for the visitors.
Mowthorpe was the first keeper called to make a save and then smart link up play between Oakwell-Boulton, Dunn and Jones earned another corner for Chi which the hosts’ keeper punched away.
Horndean did well to keep the ball in with their next attack and a fierce shot fizzed wide of Mowthorpe’s right stick.
Then Vucay made a last-ditch tackle as the opposition almost got in before clearing off the line as things got recycled.
City were under a bit of pressure in this spell and Horncastle hacked the ball away following a crisp delivery into the box.
The deadlock was broken a couple of minutes after the drinks break when Jones acrobatically latched on to a Prichard cross from the right much to the delight of his teammates and the travelling fans.
His counterpart next went close from distance and a cheeky back-heel by Prichard set up Vucaj for a cross-cum-shot which flashed across the goal.
Chi got going again in a slick move involving Axell, Haitham and Dunn before Horncastle made a super-timed tackle to deny the hosts an equaliser.
Jones might have doubled his tally in the 37th minute after a slip by the centre back but he drove his effort into the side-netting.
Some pinball in the City box and a penalty appeal that was waved away caused a bit of drama just before the interval and at the other end Horncastle forced a decent save with a ferocious attempt, Dunn had a strong effort blocked and Jones had Chi supporters holding the breath for another overhead but it wasn’t to be this time.
Danny Cashman, recently released by Brighton after nine years, came on at the break as Rutherford & Co rang a number of changes – introducing trialists and youngsters to the fray.
And the hosts were back on level terms less than two minutes in when Mowthorpe came out to a through ball but didn’t quite make it and the Horndean forward found Zak Willett for a simple tap in.
A mistake by Hyde presented the home side with an opportunity but Mowthorpe was out more smartly to tidy up before a rasping shot from Dunn was smothered by the keeper with Axell trying to pick up the scraps.
Next space opened up for Cashman, who really shone in his appearance, and just after the second drinks break Prichard, who similarly looked sharp, cracked a drive against an upright.
Alex Weinberger and U23 and U18 players Jack Farrier, Theo Bennetts, Joe Masters and Cam Russsell were given minutes in the last 20 as the visitors finished the game with Mowthorpe the only regular 2020-21 senior player on the pitch.
A firm stop by the Horndean No1 denied Weinberger and a chance went begging for Oakwell-Boulton before great feet by Jackson opened up the heart of the Chi defence as he jinked past players and swept the ball home for the winner.
Potter said, “Horndean have got a really nice set up, a good management team and a competitive side. We wish them all the best in the upcoming Wessex Premier League campaign.
“There’s no distress or pressure on the result. We’re quite pleased by the players’ performances and we got minutes for many of our senior players. It was also another really good opportunity to see some of the U23s and U18s step up to our level.
“We were really pleased again with Ethan Prichard, who’s coming back from an injury, in his third game. He’s starting to impress and hitting the level he was at this time last year in pre-season.
“Other senior players got vital minutes, in particular Matt Axell and Jamie Horncastle who were exceptional.
“We welcomed Rob Hutchings back after an isolation period and Rob did really well in the first half. We took him off as a precaution and to manage his minutes and made nine changes in the second half in the end, so of course the game was going to become a little disjointed for us.
“We’ve got a number of players that are missing through injury and Covid related issues, with notable absentees Ryan Davidson, Corey Heath, Connor Cody, Ben Pashley, Rory Biggs, Lloyd Rowlatt, Callum Overton and Josh Clack, plus a few youngsters who have been involved in recent weeks.
“So, we’re not disillusioned by the last two results. We’re focussed on our target of being ready for August 14th. We’re still enjoying what we’re doing, and we’re disappointed not to be able to fulfil the fixture on Tuesday against Horsham, but we will look to regroup, refocus for our next game with Baffins as an opportunity to test senior players and give minutes to some of our youngsters.”
Chi are scheduled to travel to Baffins Milton Rovers this Saturday 24th July (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Mowthorpe, Vucaj, Hutchings, Axell, Hyde, Oakwell-Boulton, Prichard, Horncastle, Jones, Dunn, Haitham.