East Preston have been challenged to turn around a recent slump in form.
Boss Bob Paine is eager for his troops to pull through a ‘difficult patch’.
East Preston’s late efforts proved in vain as they suffered a 3-2 SCFL Premier Division defeat at table-toppers Chichester City on Saturday.
It looked as though City would run out comprehensive winners with a Josh Clack double and Dave Herbert’s effort inside 55 minutes firing them 3-0 in front.
But Paine’s side nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback as Dan Huet and Asa Nicholson netted in the final five minutes.
That was a fifth defeat in seven matches since the turn of the year for East Preston.
Although Paine is optimistic of an upturn in results.
He said: “Clearly Chichester are a good side with bags of experience.
“They’re top of the table for a reason and yet we could have got something out of the game.
“It was good to have Tom (Lyne) and Dave (Beaney) returning from injury after six weeks out.
“They will make the squad stronger as we look to get out of the difficult patch we are currently going through.”
East Preston made two changes from the side that were held at home by Lancing last time out. Defender Tom Lyne made his first appearance since Boxing Day, while Asa Nicholson returned to the team.
Scott Slaughter wasted a good early opening before Nicholson was denied by a fine last-ditch tackle as the visitors started brightly.
But it was leaders Chichester who took the lead on 24 minutes.
Jack Barnes was caught in possession after a loose touch before bringing down Scott Jones in the area, A penalty was awarded and Clack fired home.
Dan Huet should have done better with a chance from Luke Brodie’s cross. Then City had a second ten minutes before the break.
Jake Heryet’s corner was cleared, with the hosts’ quick breakaway finished off by Clack. The game looked beyond East Preston ten minutes after the break when Herbert’s free-kick evaded everyone and nestled in the bottom corner.
Paine’s troops got one back five minutes from time as Huet poked home a rebound.
There was belief in the East Preston ranks and Nicholson’s goal set up a nervy final few minutes for the hosts, although they held on. Boss Paine cursed the goals his team conceded in the defeat. He said: “The goals we conceded were disappointing. A needless penalty, a goal from our corner and a free-kick which was unnecessary and we should have defended a lot better. In the end we lost by the odd goal again, just as we did against them last season.
EAST PRESTON: Bentley; DaCosta, Jenkins, Slaughter, Lyne, Etherington, Brodie, Barnes, Huet, Heryet, Nicholson. Subs: Beaney (Slaughter, 52), Pattenden (Brodie, 52), Collins (Heryet, 82), Crook, Pidgeon.
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