Chichester City will step up their pre-season preparations this week with two games against higher-level opposition with their bosses insisting: We’re on course for a good start to the campaign.
City have won five out of five in pre-season so far, their latest victory a 3-0 success away to Wessex League side AFC Portchester on Tuesday night.
But now tougher tests await as Chi welcome one Isthmian premier division team, Worthing, to Oaklands Park on Satuday, then face another, Bognor, in the Sussex Community Shield at Lancing on Tuesday.
City’s management hope the two games will sharpen up the squad ahead of their August 10 kick-off, which features an FA Cup tie at home to Erith, and their Isthmian League south-east divisoon opener at Ramsgate a week later.
Coach Danny Potter said: “Pre-season’s gone really well so far, though there’s a lot still to work on. We’ve tried to give minutes to as many different players in the squad as possible and we want to carry on doing that to give everyone an opportunity.
“We’re pleased to have the Worthing and Bognor games to come at this stage. They will be our hardest games of pre-season and will show us how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
“The two games will be notable highlights of pre-season and I’d like to think we can give both opponents a decent game. If wqe can hold our own against those teams it will give us massive confidence.”
“Within the next week we need to finalise the squad and get it into the shape we want it for the start of the season. We are very keen to create a pathway which will enable players in the under-18s to progress to the first team. That’s important for the short-term and long-term future of the club.”
City will have an under-18 team in the SCFL set-up again this season but hope to have an U23 side running next season or the one after.
As a club that cannot pay much to attract players, developing their own talent is going to vital to their hopes of survival at step four of the non-league pyramid.
For now they are pleased to have retained the services of key men from last season’s SCFL title-winning team such as forwards Scott Jones and Gicu Iordache, winger Josh Clack and defenders Connor Cody and Ben Pashley.
They’ve added some new faces, too – with striker Callum Overton, midfielder Lloyd Rowlatt and defender Jamie Horncastle all joining the party.
And there are high hopes that a number of youngsters, including 17-year-old central midfielder Theo Bennett, can press for first-team action.
Potter, as we have reported, is part of a four-man management team that also includes manager Miles Rutherford, assistant Graeme Gee and coach Darin Killpartrick.
“We’re working well together,” said Potter. “But the real tests are ahead of us.”
Saturday’s sole home friendly has a 3pm kick-off and admission is £5 adults, £3 concessions, £1 students, with those 16 and under going free.
The club’s annual sponsors’ draw will be made after Saturday’s game. It’s not too late to enter for the chance to be City’s shirt sponsor this season - email chairman Andy Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter or find out more.
Bell said: “We are in the process of launching a new website and with exciting developments to be announced soon, it is a great time to come on board and support the club.”