CHICHESTER took the lead against St Francis in division one of the Sussex League - but eventually lost 2-1 in their first game for some time.
City were missing Joe Gromett and Alex Ansa, both called up for the Sussex under-18 team, while Gareth Sanashee, Ollie Brookes and Joe Manners all figured in the starting XI for the first time this season with several other regulars also absent.
The Saints had the ball in the net after eight minutes, but Dan O’Farrell’s effort was cancelled out by the referee’s whistle. And ten minutes later the official ruled in favour of Chichester again when Morgan Forry’s run towards goal was thwarted by a Josh Bryant foul.
Forry himself took the resultant spot-kick, confidently firing straight down the middle to make it 1-0.
But a couple of minutes afterwards, St Francis were level as Aaron Walsh also put away a penalty. City had panicked after a clearance was intercepted by the Saints’ forwards and Brookes committed a foul marginally inside the box.
The second half was a very scrappy affair, and play was only 40 seconds old when Saints scored what proved the deciding goal, Nathan Millroy cheekily slipping the ball straight past Anthony Ender, who had barely had time to put his gloves back on.
The visitors nearly grabbed another when Walsh sent a cross to the far post - but sub Harry Farmer just mis-timed his slide in for what would have been his first touch.
“There were loads of players missing,” reflected joint-boss Sean Forry. “So really, with people stepping in and out of place, it says a lot about the depth of players we have at the club – you can’t knock the effort and commitment.”
CITY: Ender, Heath, Boniface, Cody, Hibbert, Sanashee, Groom, F Smith, Brookes, Manners, Forry. Subs: Watts, Blakeman, Lee-Smith.
City host Crowborough on Saturday.