First Team
Friendly Sat 31 July Oaklands Park
Chichester City
  • Lynch (54', 67')

Stoke boss Dan Brownlie said, “It was a good win. We know all about Chichester and how good they are on the ball, so we knew we were going to be up against it. We let ourselves down a little in the first half, but the intensity of our second half play paid dividends and made all the difference. We didn’t create as many chances as I’d have liked today, but our goals came from an unrelenting willingness to not give up, and that’s what won it. That’s a good habit to be in.”

When the sides met last September in the FA Cup preliminary round ten-man Chichester, who had Rob Hutchings red carded for a deliberate handball in the first half, pulled off a dramatic comeback win in the penalty shoot-out after trailing 2-0 before goals from Ryan Penny and Josh Clack levelled things up.

Steve Mowthorpe saved a couple of pens on that occasion but was side-lined for this penultimate friendly ahead of the new campaign along with Hutchings who also picked up a knock.

Mowthorpe’s stand-in accompanied Emmett Dunn and Ben Pashley at right and left back respectively with Connor Cody and Corey Heath at the heart of the defence. Jamie Horncastle and Flori Vucaj lined up in the middle and Scott Jones, Lloyd Rowlatt, Kaleem Haitham and Callum Overton, who equalised mid-week against Christchurch, offered an attacking threat.

There was little to choose between two teams that cancelled each other out in the opening 45 minutes.

The first chance of the game fell to the visitors after Heath conceded an early free kick. Basingstoke’s centre back lifted the resulting left-footed delivery high over the bar on the turn.

Next Stoke broke when Haitham was dispossessed and forced the first corner. Jones cleared easily enough and then an effort fizzed narrowly past the right-hand stick before the Chi stand-in No1 got a glove on another attempt and was relieved to see the follow up snap shot blaze over.

A coming together of Heath and an opponent in the box had the travelling fans behind the goal appealing for a penalty but the referee wasn’t interested.

The hosts slowly got a foothold in the game and Haitham linked up nicely with Cody only to have his drive blocked and then on the half hour mark fired a shot just over the woodwork.

Moments later Overton charged down the right flank and picked out Rowlatt with a clever pass. The midfielder’s effort ricocheted into the path of Jones but defenders smuggled the ball away.

Vucay and Dunn combined well two minutes before the interval – the Canadian’s cross nicked off a Basingstoke player and was tidied up by the keeper.

Dunn then got a firm block in to deny a marauding midfielder who drifted through the centre of the park.

Pashley pinged a super pass to Jones only for the Chi striker to get his delivery all wrong.

On the stroke of half time Overton almost got in but the goalie put his laces through the ball and comfortably claimed a right-sided cross intended for Haitham.

An unchanged Chi restarted brightly and Jones fizzed one marginally over after good hold-up play from Overton.

At the other end the hosts’ keeper managed to get behind an effort from distance and grabbed the ball at the second attempt after a smart tackle by Cody in the area.

And then on 54 minutes the deadlock was broken when Lynch exploited some errant goalkeeping and turned the ball skilfully into the net.

The stand-in redeemed himself sixty seconds later palming a fierce shot over.

Matt Axell replaced Horncastle in the first of several substitutions before Jones nearly reached an outstretched Overton.

Ethan Prichard came on for Vucay and some diligent defending by Dunn and a goal-line clearance denied Stoke.

Prichard was soon involved, bursting down the right wing but no one could get to his cross.

The away side doubled their advantage in the 67th minute when Lynch scored from the spot after Dunn was somewhat harshly judged to have committed a foul, although Chichester had needlessly given the ball away in the previous passage of play.

Conor Lynch doubles the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot (Photo: Basingstoke Town FC Twitter)

Lewis Hyde was introduced for Heath before a Dunn delivery almost found Overton.

Jones could have pulled one back after he latched on to another Pashley ball but it curled inches past the post.

Dan Wood and Theo Bennetts replaced Pashley and Rowlatt as Rutherford & Co gave minutes to youngsters.

Cody wasn’t far away with an effort that the visitors’ keeper turned out for a corner which Hyde glanced wide.

Forwards Will Stone and Alex Weinberger took Jones and Overton’s places up front in the final 10 and Weinberger might have grabbed a consolation late on but shot off target.

Coach Danny Potter said, “We felt we had good possession of the ball in the first half in particular, but the one thing we need to work on is the creation of chances. The two Basingstoke goals were arguably mistakes from the trialist goalkeeper and the second a soft penalty.

“All respect to Basingstoke. They had a very good game, were very organised and looked dangerous at times.

“We’ve still got things to learn and develop. It’s been a very strange time for football clubs this pre-season with the availability of players, injuries and isolation periods.

“What we need to do is get a bit of fluidity in the way that we want to play and create chances. We believe we will get there. There’s still a bit of time before our first competitive game, which is on August 14th.

“We’ve got Bognor to come and this will be our hardest pre-season test. We’ll focus on the challenge ahead.

“Myself, Miles Rutherford, Graeme Gee and Darin Killpartrick all sat down at the end of the game and we discussed what we need to improve on. We’ll talk to players about what they need to pick up on in preparation for the season.

“Physically, some of our players are tiring a little bit and that’s due to the lack of football they’ve had for almost six months in some cases. Our younger lads are starting to show a bit of strength. Ethan Prichard looked exciting when he came off the bench and he’s got a spark back in his game. Lloyd Rowlatt looked like the tidy player he is in the first half. He’s coming back from an injury and is very important for us. Credit to Ben Pashley who slotted in at left back.

“We introduced a few players in the second half and they did well when they came on. Matt Axell started to control the game for us.

“We’re going to re-group and we will remain positive.”

Chi travel to Bognor on Monday 9th August for their last pre-season fixture (Kick Off 7:30pm).

Chichester – Trialist, Dunn, Pashley, Horncastle, Cody, Heath, Jones, Vucay, Overton, Rowlatt, Haitham. Subs: (Wood, Prichard, Bennetts, Hyde, Axell, Stone, Weinberger)