Chichester City management duo Neil Sherlock and Sean Forry are pleased with the way their pre-season is shaping up so far.
The pair are happy with the look of their squad for the new campaign and do not see defeat in their first two friendlies as any concern.
City took 17 players for their first run-out last Tuesday at Wessex Premier League outfit Moneyfields and lost 4-1.
New signings Anthony Ender, Luke Kilner, Mike Spencer and Steve Curtis all played a part, while under-18s Johan Van Driel and Joe Gromett made their senior debuts for the club.
This was Moneyfields’ fourth friendly and that became obvious in the early stages. City lacked sharpness and organisation and played much of the opening exchanges in their own half, so when Miller calmly stroked the ball home to put the hosts ahead, there was no surprise.
As the first half progressed, so did City and they started to play themselves back into it before equalising on 40 minutes when Tom Groom stole in at the back post to convert an Aiden Madden cross.
The second half saw City start the better team and with Kilner and Blatchford orchestrating proceedings from midfield, they dominated for 20 minutes.
There was not, in the end, enough cutting edge to their play and as time wore, City wore out. Moneyfields regained the initiative for the final quarter and broke three times to breach an outnumbered defensive line.
On Saturday, City took two squads to face Petersfield at Sidlesham and, again found themselves on the receiving end of defeat, going down 3-1 and 3-0 respectively.
The performance was far more convincing than against Moneyfields and City just about edged the overall game for the first 60 minutes. Although Still gave Petersfield a one-goal advantage, City’s overall game was solid.
Heath and debutant Charlie Bailey were confident in their first pairing as centre-halves and Kilner, Blatchford, Gilbert then Van Driel bossed the centre.
City still lacked punch in the final third but shortly after the break showed flashes of their potential - Forry eventually breaking strongly from the left to fire home from a tight angle.
Once again, as the game closed out, the advanced stage of Petersfield’s pre-season campaign began to tell and tiredness led to errors and then two more goals for the hosts.
‘’Friendlies are an important part of our pre-season preparations, but we do not read too much into the results” said Sherlock. “The games are arranged as part of our structured training and, without the pressure of achieving results, allow us to work on players’ strengths, fitness and sharpness as well as team variations of play.”
Forry added: “We have played two sides from the Wessex League, who will be starting their season before us. We are aiming to peak on August 10, not now, and are very pleased with what we are seeing.”
City have lost last season’s player of the year, Ken Hagan, who has finished his local studies, along with striker Aran McCarthey who is heading overseas for work. However, they are hopeful of signing centre-half Charlie Bailey and feel that, along with other signings and the retention of the rest of last season’s young squad, puts them in good shape.
This Saturday (July 27) sees a busy day for the club, with Oaklands Park seeing its first action. At 11.30am there will be a veterans’ match between Chichester City and Portfield, followed at 3pm by the men’s first team’s annual encounter with Christchurch.
Forry said: “This is an important day for the club in what we see as a springboard season that represents the final completion of the 2000 merger between Portfield & City.
“It will be good for ex-players and staff to get together again and meet the current squad. We are proud of our long tradition at this club and of the way we have rebuilt the current senior squads. It will be good to see the past and present come together.
“The Christchurch fixture is played in memory and celebration of Steve Barnard, who came from Christchurch to study in the city and play for our club before tragically being killed in a road accident.”
All are welcome to watch both games at Oaklands Park. Entry is free.