Chichester were beaten by East Preston for the third time this season in a match contested on a pitch affected by the recent heavy rain. The Sussex League tussle at Oaklands Park ended 4-1 to the visitors.
Dan Roberts was called up for only his second start and the City keeper pulled off a series of good saves against the title-chasing opposition.
East Preston were very slow to start, conceding a goal to Dan Watts in the second minute before they’d even had a chance to get organised.
They then gave away a free-kick that almost allowed Perry Northeast to double the lead.
But gradually the visitors hauled themselves through the mudbath to take control of the match.
A free-kick from Fred Foreman on nine minutes sailed straight into the net and a move involving James Rhodes and Rob Boddy set up Biff Shelley to score on 25 minutes and make it 2-1.
City had the ball in the net a few moments later after they’d won a corner, but the linesman ruled out the effort.
Six minutes into the second half, a powerful Rhodes shot forced Roberts to make a great stop, but from the resulting corner Dan Simmonds extended EP’s lead.
Niall O’Hagan, who had only just come on as a substitute, netted his team’s fourth goal on 68 minutes.
“I think we were still thinking about Christmas turkey for the early goal,” said EP boss Dom di Paola afterwards. “We have a habit of letting in awful goals.
“To be honest, all that is stopping Chi being comfortable in the league is a lack of experience.
“They have some great players, but make the same sort of errors in games and lack some leaders.
“If they go down and keep that team together they will come up a stronger group and would do really well in county division two as they try to play good football.
“I also think there are much worse teams that I have seen this year and if they get a few wins they will be fine.”
CITY: Roberts, Heath, Lambert, Hibbert, Boniface, Northeast, Groom, Brookes, Forry, Watts, F Smith. Sub: Manners.