The Chi stalwart, and University of Chichester football coaching lecturer, found himself in unfamiliar territory pitting his expertise and knowledge of the Oaklands Park outfit from the away dugout this time against fellow coach Darin Killpartrick and assistant manager Graeme Gee in the other one.
And it was an enthralling encounter between the elite players of the country’s higher education sector ahead of their Home Nations tournament and the Sussex side who get their fourth campaign at Step 4 of the non-league pyramid going in three weeks’ time.
In a first home pre-season friendly City made a couple of changes to the starting XI that beat Selsey in the Dave Kew Cup final at Pagham on Sunday with Lewis Hyde returning to partner captain Ben Pashley in the heart of the defence and Tom Dinsmore starting in midfield.
Lloyd Rowlatt made a super run on two minutes, but Pashley’s pass couldn’t quite pick him out.
Both teams probed in the opening stages and the visitors might have been caught out when a cross from the right deflected off a defender and almost looped over their keeper.
Last term’s Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year Ryan Davidson made an outstanding tackle as English Universities carved up the centre of the park before Kieran Magee was forced into his first stop of the night.
Pashley then bailed Rowlatt out after he was dispossessed, and Josh Clack got Rob Hutchings away down the left only for his cut back to get cut out.
Hutchings’ next delivery was perfect and Davidson found the back of the net only to be denied, perhaps unjustly, by a referee’s assistant flag.
The away side broke on the right flank and after impressive perseverance whipped in a dangerous cross which Magee claimed.
After the drinks break Kaleem Haitham and Hutchings combined but Rowlatt was unable to get a decent connection when the ball sat up in the box.
Davidson overlapped only for the visiting custodian to deal with his delivery and Clack fired one over.
A long ranger nicked off one of the Chi back four and gave Magee something to think about before a heavy touch from Haitham, when he might have got in, put paid to a promising opportunity.
English Universities were similarly wasteful at the other end.
A slick turn by Hutchings and pass to Clack teed Davidson up but his effort was off target and then, possibly against the run of play, the visitors took the lead from the penalty spot five minutes before the interval – Luke Sidaway tucking his kick coolly into the bottom right-hand corner.
Connor Cody, Callum Overton and Ethan Prichard came on at the break for Hyde, Ryan Pennery and Joe Clarke.
Chichester were a further goal behind two minutes after the restart when Magee went walk about, needlessly giving the ball away in no man’s land and Troy Walters finished with ease.
Clack nearly reduced the deficit but his fierce effort was saved smartly by the Universities’ No1.
Prichard did well to drive into the box in Chi’s next attack but a defender managed to deal with the threat and his keeper bravely came out to prevent Overton getting to a lob after Dinsmore, Hutchings and Clack hooked up – with a knock for his trouble.
Davidson was forced to come off following a nasty challenge which earned the opponent a rare friendly yellow card.
Clack, who scored City’s opener against Selsey at the weekend, got his side back into things in the 65th minute steering Overton’s cut back home.
Then Cody’s pass to Prichard was a little too strong and Clack couldn’t get the ball under control as Hutchings and Haitham played a neat one-two.
Cody had a shot steered out for a corner which came to nothing before the hosts rang the changes with 20 to go introducing Oscar Johnston and re-introducing Clarke and Pennery.
Chi were in the ascendency and Pennery was bundled over in the area on 80 minutes. He dusted himself down and levelled up the match with a penalty that clipped the inside of the post.
The visitors grabbed what proved to be the winner five minutes later. Magee might have been slightly out of position but take nothing away from the quality of Xavi de Pedro’s strike.
Johnson slid a measured through ball to a marauding Cody who was checked by a defender and his attempt skewed into the side-netting in the last move.
Up next for Chi is another home fixture with Christchurch at Oaklands Park on Saturday 23rd July (Kick Off 3pm).
Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Dinsmore, Hyde, Pashley, Rowlatt, Clarke, Clack, Pennery, Haitham.