Friendly Sat 27 July Oaklands Park
Chichester City
  • Meekums (35')
  • Budd (40')
  • Mendoza (55')

The visitors took to a pristine surface against a side managed by another one of our former players, Miles Rutherford that included five ex-players to boot.

There were three changes to the eleven that started Tuesday’s handsome victory over Eastbourne United. Ben Mendoza and Reece Myles-Meekums both returned from minor knocks suffered at Three Bridges, with Lloyd Dawes in from kick-off and Ollie Pearce coming on alongside nine new teammates, just past the hour mark.

It didn’t take long for the away team to get into their stride, as Jasper Pattenden forced the ’keeper to stop his shot finding the top corner in the very first minute.

Chi’s number one was at it again moments later, this time saving with his feet after Dawes had managed to get the ball out of his.

The home custodian was certainly being kept busy in the opening exchanges, although his next (impressive) attempt at preventing Dawes’ header from Meekums’ corner being the games’ maiden strike proved to be in vain, as the referee blew for a foul.

Little, if anything at all, had been seen of the hosts in an attacking sense so far but that soon changed around the midway point of the half, when Matt Axell sent a free-kick into the box and Callum Overton rose unchallenged to head past Aaron Relf.

Ten minutes later and the visitors were feeling a sense of deja vu, as a long ball was brought down expertly by Josh Clack and, although a heavy touch looked to have seen the chance go begging, he recovered the situation well and turned Cameron Tutt on the byline before picking out Overton at the far post, who headed home from almost a seated position.

Last year’s friendly had seen Chichester race into a three-goal lead at the break but those fears were soon allayed by the persistence of Meekums. The winger coming inside his man to curl an effort into the top corner, despite The Stripes’ netminder getting a hand on it.

With queues starting to form at the refreshments hatch and bar, our new centre forward, Darren Budd (!) produced the equaliser by beating the wall via a well-taken free-kick, after Ben Mendoza had naturally gone to ground in a seemingly innocuous bump with a home defender.

Worthing nearly went back to the dressing room a goal up but, once more, they were denied by the ‘keeper, who first saved with his feet and then punched away the resulting corner. Dawes initially working his way to the byline but unable to beat the apparently unbeatable

Joe Tennent almost inadvertently restored the home team’s advantage when his header from the left-back’s cross went narrowly the ‘wrong’ side of the back stick, two minutes into the second period.

Dawes saw his firm, low drive saved before Ben Mendoza got his name on the scoresheet for the first time in a red shirt; lashing home at the far post, where Pattenden’s left-sided delivery had found him.

As we approached the hour mark, Jesse Starkey tried his luck from distance but came closer to finding the neighbouring rugby goal, rather than the footballing version and it was Chi who added to the scoreline on sixty-two minutes.

An unchecked run allowed Overton to power home a header from a right wing corner – completing his hat-trick in the process – and we were all-square again.

A short time later the Clack, Overton combination returned with the former getting away down the right and the latter attempting to flick the ball in at the near post; only missing by a squeak.

Then the same pairing came within a whisker of finding a fourth, with roles reversed, on the break.

The game swung slightly back in the visitor’s favour when Ollie Pearce’s floated set-piece from the inside left channel located the towering frame of Joe Clarke, who wasn’t far away with his subsequent header.

Another counter-attack by Chi resulted in Clack getting the better of Dylan Jelley, pulling back a tad too far for Overton but a different colleague forced Relf into holding his low effort from the edge of the box. An identical position to where one of many second half changes arched a shot fractionally over the framework, two minutes later.

Mason Doughty started on the left before his run took him to the opposite side of the pitch and Pearce took over; hitting a cross-shot against the inside of the far upright, only to watch in amazement as the ball stayed out

As time began to run out, Pearce’s much delayed free-kick bounced harmlessly through to the ‘keeper, Clack’s set-piece sailed marginally over the head of Overton at the back post and only a last ditch intervention prevented Doughty applying the finishing touch to Alex Parsons’ fizzing delivery, after he’d played a one-two – of sorts – with fellow replacement, Callum Kealy.