Winchester City 0 Barnstaple 3
Winchester City's mathematical hopes of promotion were ended when they lost 3-0 to Barnstaple, although even if they had won Evesham's victory over Taunton which gave Hereford the title would have ended their hopes anyway.
Craig Davis appointed as Winchester boss until the end of the season in midweek named himself as substitute in a team which had two changes to the starting line-up from the team that played at Yate with Andy Jenkinson and Danny King replacing Sam Wilson and Danny Smith with the former dropping to the substitutes bench. Olly Searle has left the club to join Horndean, but apart from that and Craig's arrival the playing personnel at the club remained unchanged.
Winchester made a poor start when in the 3rd minute a cross from the right by Craig Allen was deflected past his own goalkeeper by Jamie Ford. Apart from an effort by Jack Jenkins that deceived Lewis Noice in the wind and hit the crossbar Winchester certainly had the better of the remainder of the first half, with Andy Jenkinson with a free kick and Craig Feeney forcing good saves from Steven Oliver in the visitors goal, Stuart Green and Craig Feeney having powerful shots just off target and Joe Briggs putting in a cross that no-one could get a touch to.
At times though the Winchester play lacked confidence and they frustratingly gave away possession. Barnstaple for their part held on their lead with determination with their full backs overlapping well at times.
Winchester started the second half brightly with Davis replacing Andy Jenkinson at the interval and Andy Ford hit the top of the crossbar and on another occasion Oliver was forced to tip the ball over his own crossbar, but Barnstaple began to get back in the game and look the side more likely to score again. Liam Gregory with a free kick and Jack Jenkins came close, but with quarter of an hour to go a penalty was awarded when Lewis Noice was adjudged to have fouled Ryan Turner and Liam Gregory converted the resulting penalty.
With a couple of minutes to play substitute Shaun Copp added a third in the 88th minute and although after that Craig Allen received a second yellow card by then the match was won and lost as a Barnstaple team in the lower half of the table, but in reasonable form and safe from the threat of relegation avenged a defeat at the hands of the Citizens earlier in the season.
Yate Town 1 Winchester City 0
Winchester suffered their fourth defeat in a row losing 1-0 to Yate Town. They are now 16 points away from 5th place with only 6 games to play and if Evesham beat Swindon Supermarine on Wednesday, then the Hampshire club will be mathematically out of the promotion equation.
Winchester made three changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday with Joe Briggs, Danny Smith and Adam Roberts coming in and Olly Searle, Jack Hannam and Joe Hayward all dropping to the bench,
The first half was fairly uneventful. Lewis Noice had to save a shot from Connor Jones and a free kick from Mike Baker, while at the other end Harvey Rivers made a routine save from Jamie Barron and had to go full length to keep out an effort from Craig Feeney. However most of the attacking movememts were intercepted or blocked before a shot on goal could be produced.
In the second half Rivers made an excellent save from Jamie Ford tipping his effort over the bar, while at the other end Luke Bryan was only fractionally away from getting a decisive touch to a Steve Gilbert cross.
Yate took the lead midway through the half when a good run by full back Mayson Evans on the overlap was touched in by Bryan at the far post.
Having gone a goal down Winchester began to dominate possession, although the visitors were defending with great determination. Rivers made excellent saves from Howard Neighbour and Stuart Green and Lewis Hide had a couple of chances, but despite forcing several corners and their wingers providing an abundance of balls into the box they could not find a breakthrough even when the visitors were reduced to 10 men when having used all three substitutes goalscorer Bryan limped off.
Yate invited several of their former players to this game, some of whom had represented them in the Southern League Premier Division and it is not surprising they chose Rivers as the man of the match for his goalkeeping heroics.
On Saturday Winchester are at home to Barnstaple.
Salisbury 3 - 1 Winchester City
After 20 minutes, with the score 3-0 to Salisbury, it looked like a real thrashing was on the cards. Thankfully we reverted to a flat back four, condemning a hapless wing back formation, and suddenly the game was much more even. Sam Wilson reduced the deficit, and had we not spurned a decent chance just before the break - who knows what the outcome might have been.
The second half was much more controlled, although our hosts still had the majority of the play. That said, our lads dug in and gave all they had - albeit pretty much in a lost cause.
Obviously, to go into a game like this without Smith, Tomasso, Jenkinson, Taz, Matthews & King makes life a tad difficult - but in the end we at least salvaged some pride.