Chichester City suffered defeat in the Velocity Trophy as Heath hitman Trever McCreadie struck a double at Hanbury Park.
Following a first Isthmian South East division fixture played at Oaklands Park in almost two months, and a Sussex Senior Cup second round tie away at Shoreham, Chi were back on their travels playing in another cup competition.
Chichester had lost two of their three group stage games before this in the Velocity Trophy - home defeats to Hastings and East Grinstead coming either side of the club’s only win in the trophy, at Three Bridges in an entertaining 6-2 victory.
Miles Rutherford & Co have experimented with line-ups in the competition thus far, however, the game offered the opportunity for players to push for a starting berth in the team that will play in the much-anticipated FA Cup second round game on Sunday week.
The Chichester management shuffled the pack from the weekend’s 1-1 draw in the league against Sittingbourne. Goalkeeper Connor Kelly replaced Steve Mowthorpe for his second club appearance; last week’s goalscorer in the Sussex Senior Cup Ryan Peake returned to the heart of the defence in place of club captain Connor Cody; and Rory Biggs, Kaleem Haitham and Jimmy Wild came in for Jamie Horncastle, Josh Clack and Scott Jones.
Heath made their intentions clear from the start and dominated early on with Chi struggling to get a hold of possession.
Callum Saunders and Hamish Morrison offered a constant threat on the right flank, with Morrison relentlessly busting a gut on the overlap as the pair won a host of corners. And the first opportunity came from one of these when the ball fortuitously fell to McCreadie whose improvised backheel was well blocked by the visitors’ defence.
A Chichester counter led by Haitham picked out Wild and the big No9 danced past two players but a good last-ditch tackle from a recovering defender halted the attack.
Biggs earned himself an early yellow after the midfielder was forced to stop a dangerous counter attack.
Heath winger Nico Cotton had an effort well blocked by Corey Heath and moments later blazed a shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
The home side squandered another chance when Saunders couldn’t sort out his feet quick enough and his shot failed to trouble Kelly.
Gicu Iordache next fired a snapshot that deflected just wide and from the resulting corner Peake climbed highest but his goal-bound header was cleared. The ball made its way out to Lloyd Rowlatt whose fierce effort called Luke Glover into action.
Haitham had an attempt blocked after good work from the Chi winger, and Rowlatt dribbled past his man only to send a shot comfortably wide just before the break.
After a goalless first half the hosts went ahead sixty seconds into the second one when Nathan Cooper intercepted and sent a defence splitting ball through to the onrushing McCreadie. The striker finished expertly in the bottom left corner and had Chi looking to come back from behind for the second game running.
The hosts thought they had doubled their lead when Kelly spilt a shot to McCreadie but the goal was ruled out for offside. This prompted Rutherford to take action with all five substitutions being made at once as the visitors went in search of an equaliser.
Substitute and goal scorer from the weekend Cody came on in an unfamiliar right back position and he was involved straight away when his powerful strike stung the palms of Glover.
Cody again caused problems after he picked out Wild at the far post but the Chichester striker couldn’t keep his header down. At the other end the home team then went close after McCreadie teed up Cooper only for his fierce first-time drive to fly inches wide of the post.
Cooper then had an eye for the spectacular again as his quick thinking from a free-kick spotted Kelly off his line, but the midfielder couldn’t find the target. The visitors’ best chance came from another Wild header but this time it was well saved by Glover.
The game was put to bed in the 88th minute when Cotton sent in a deep cross that Kelly misjudged and the ball was headed back across the box for McCreadie to complete the simple task of nodding it into an empty net to get his and Heath’s second.
Chi return to league action next with a visit to Phoenix Sports on Saturday.
Chichester: Kelly, Davidson, Hutchings, Dunn, Peake, Heath, Haitham, Biggs, Wild, Rowlatt, Iordache. Subs – (Horncastle, Connor Cody, Clack, George Cody, Bennetts).