Adam Hinshelwood’s team, who topped the Isthmian premier division back in March when coronavirus brought the 2019-20 football season at steps three to seven to an end with campaigns null and void, went ahead in the fifth minute.

They might have doubled their advantage moments later but a probing through ball had just too much on it and then Chi keeper Steve Mowthorpe did well to get something on a set-piece.

Next left back Rob Hutchings went on a fine run only to delay playing either Scott Jones or Josh Clack in, before the Chichester back four failed to clear their lines and fell further behind after a close-range effort beat Mowthorpe.

Ben Pashley, who had a spell with Worthing last year, denied his former club a third with an impressive block and then Worthing rattled the woodwork after Lloyd Rowlatt lost the ball on the edge of the box.

Chi were under the cosh to opponents from a higher league now and had two free-kicks and a couple of corners to defend in quick succession.

Kaleem Haitham, a goalscorer mid-week in Chichester’s 3-0 win over Loxwood in their opening pre-season match, forced the Worthing No.1 into a first save just ahead of the drinks break following a slick move involving Clack and Jones.

Pashley stretched out a leg to turn a Worthing shot out for a corner after the re-start and then Jones had a header cleared and another punched away as Chi looked to get back into the game.

Haitham was heavily involved in this period. A super tackle put an end to his run after a neat turn; then the keeper got a glove on Haitham’s cross before a clever one-two between Haitham and captain Connor Cody resulted in an over-hit pass to Clack.

Jones stung the keeper’s gloves after good work from Rowlatt and nodded a Haitham delivery just wide.

At the other end Mowthorpe saved smartly after Worthing got in too easily and then was quick off his line on the stroke of half-time to tidy up.

Both teams mixed things up at the interval. Chi boss Miles Rutherford introduced Flori Vucay for Ryan Davidson at right back, Corey Heath came on for Pashley in the heart of the defence, Gicu Iordache replaced Jamie Horncastle and youngster Ethan Pritchard took Jones’ place up top.

Haitham went close with an effort that cannoned off the bar before Pritchard pulled one back with a composed finish on 54 minutes.

Worthing were 3-1 up just before the hour and then blazed an attempt over.

A thunderous strike from Rowlatt was saved; the lively Iordache went close on two occasions; and was involved again following a cheeky back-heel from Pritchard and nice exchange from Rowaltt but couldn’t direct his shot past the keeper. Pritchard got his second ten minutes from time turning in a Hutchings’ cut-back after an overlap down the left wing.

Last year’s pre-season encounter between the two sides ended 3-3 but here Chi spurned late opportunities and Worthing grabbed a fourth goal with a super flick over substitute keeper Jacob Briggs.

Chichester coach Danny Potter said, “We did ok today, apart from a few mistakes and a bit of rustiness.”

The sides are scheduled to meet again at Oaklands Park on Tuesday, September 1.

* Pagham beat Selsey 4-0 in the other semi-final. The Pagham-Worthing final will be played later in August.


Match Report: Ian Worden, Worthing Herald.