Midhurst start with creditable point - Chichester City and Selsey ready to start

Enough of the friendlies – the start of the football season has finally arrived.

Some of our local sides began their 2022-23 league campaigns last weekend, while others do so this Saturday.

Chichester City begin with an FA Cup game – hosting Frimley Green in the extra preliminary round of the cup at Oaklands Park. Selsey begin their SCFL division one campaign at home to one of the league’s new sides, Chessington& Hook.

Meanwhile Midhurst & Easebourne began their SCFL premier season – following promotion via the play-offs last term – with a 1-1 draw at home to Bexhill. The Stags felt it was a well-earned point against a strong Bexhill United side who did very well last season.

Midhurst celebrate their goal in their 1-1 draw with Bexhill that opened their SCFL premier campaign | Picture: Martin Denyer

Midhurst handed debuts to Charlie Osbourne and Dan Wood and started well, moving the ball freely. Bexhill were lively going forward but as the half progressed it was the Stags who had the best chance.

Lewis Hamilton played a good ball into the Bexhill box and Robbie Tambling’s neat touch on the turn saw his volley brilliantly saved by Gregor Shaw in the Bexhill goal. Bexhill had a great chance as Jack Langford picked up the ball, drove at the Stags defence and was bundled to the ground 20 yards from goal.

Jack Shonk’s well-struck free kick forced Josh Bird into a full-stretch save to his left. Hamilton got free on the right and was bought down on the edge of the area but the resulting free kick come to nothing. Bexhill went in front in the 38th minute, Bird playing a poor kick that found Kyle Holden, who picked out Shonk, whose cross was bundled home by Evan Archibald.

Bexhill applied some pressure as the half ended but the Stags back line stood firm. Bexhill started the better in opening exchanges of the second period but the Stags got themselves back in the game in the 59th minute.

Kieran Carter played a quick free kick to Oli Kershaw who drove at the Bexhill defence and picked out Harry Tremlett. His quick pass found Carter, whose effort was well saved by Shaw, but Tambling was there to tap home the loose ball. Both sides had chances without testing the keeper.

Cian Tilley found himself through on goal and went around Shaw only to run the ball out of play. In the closing stages Bexhill looked dangerous with long balls into the Stags’ box without really testing Bird.

Stags boss Andy Ewen was full of praise for his side, saying: “We defended brilliantly against a front three that are top drawer, the stats don’t lie. Josh made one error with a poor kick and we got punished. He will learn from that. The reaction after going behind was pleasing. We could have nicked it the end. We had a point to start with and we wanted to keep it at worst case. We can compete at this level, we need to be consistent, and this will give us confidence.”

Midhurst visit AFC Uckfield in the FA Cup extra preliminary round on Saturday.

Pagham are starting their Wessex League campaign v US Portsmouth on Tuesday night - news of that will appear here on Wednesday.