Bishops Cleeve 1 Winchester City 0
Winchester's outside hopes of the playoffs became even more remote when they lost 1-0 to a Bishops Cleeve team who as a result completed the double against Winchester and moved them into 13th place, 4 places behind Winchester. It was the Cheltenham based side's first home league win since November. Evesham's surprise home defeat at the hands of Slimbridge means that Winchester are only 10 points off the playoff places with a game in hand.
With both Robbie Matthews and Adam Roberts suspended Winchester bought in Danny King returning from injury and new signing Lewis Hide into the defence with Olly Searle also starting. Early on Craig Feeney was fouled and a free kick was awarded outside the box, but the decision was an interesting one as it appeared that Feeney was first fouled outside the box and later inside the box and the referee appeared to penalise Bishops Cleeve for the first offence after the second foul had been committed to Winchester's disadvantage.
Stuart Green then put in a cross that Howard Neighbour got on the end of, but his effort was wide, Both Jamie Barron (Winchester) and Jacob Davidge (Bishops Cleeve) had powerfully struck free kicks that went wide with Davidge's effort being deflected for a corner.
Davidge then broke clear on the right, but his cross was intercepted by Olly Searle. However Bishops Cleeve took the lead in the 34th minute when Olly Butler crossed for Joe Bates to score.
Before half time Chris Pates and Stuart Green forced routine saves from the respective goalkeepers, while Feeney put in a cross that no-one could got on the end of.
The second half was a disappointment and manager Ian Saunders on his return to the dugout admitted that the overall performance was "disappointing". The nearest we came to a further goal was when Joe Bates was clean through, but his shot was off target. The home team certainly had more possession in key areas of the pitch and generally looked the team more likely to score. For Winchester in the second half Andy Jenkinson had a cross intercepted and they forced two corners in quick succession towards the end with Neighbour heading over from Jenkinson's delivery for the second of these. Winchester's substitutions also failed to change the game, without being a reflection on the players bought on.
Winchester have a chance to bounce back when they are at home to Bideford and on Saturday they entertain Taunton. The following Tuesday they travel to Basingstoke in the Hampshire Senior Cup semi final.
Winchester 4 Evesham United 1
Winchester returned to winning ways with an excellent 4-1 triumph against an Evesham team that went into the match in third position
Evesham who were very nearly transferred to the Evo-Stik Northern League during the summer, but successfully appealed against the decision had good travelling support which helped increase the attendance to 178.
For Mick Catlin's last game in temporary charge Winchester announced an unchanged starting line-up from Tuesday's draw at Mangotsfield which with Jamie Ford, Danny King and Stuart Mott not featuring, Danny Smith and Adam Roberts were once again drafted into a makeshift defence.
Robbie Matthews and Adam Tomasso were the only recognised defenders in the back four, but in the first minute Matthews was shown a red card for what was deemed to be a professional foul on Adam Mann, although there was some debate as to whether he was last man. Tomaasso only lasted 15 minutes as he went off injured to be replaced by Olly Searle.
In thew early stages Lewis Noice had to twice rush from his area to deny Mann, once clearing the ball with his head. Although Craig Feeney forced Nick Stanley to clear at the expense of a corner, Winchester were generally on the back foot in the first half and it was somewhat against the run of play when they took the lead in the 28th minute when Howard Neighbour crossed from the right for Stuart Green to score.
Feeney forced a couple of corners, although Evesham continued to have most of the play with Mann having one powerfully struck shot just off target, and Noice having to save from Elliott Kennedy. Just as it looked as though Winchester were going to hold out until half time Lance Smith crossed for Mann to level the scores just before the interval.
Early in the second half Evesham were given a free header from a corner, but Lewis Noice saved. Andy Jenkinson also had a well struck free kick well saved by Kevin Sawyer, while Winchester's makeshift defence were doing well to snuff out Evesham's attack.
On the hour parity of numbers was restored when Archie Haskayne was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident after the referee had awarded Evesham a free kick.
By now Winchester were creating the better chances. Howard Neighbour was just off target and Craig Feeney broke clear, but was unable to test Sawyer in the Evesham goal, although Sawyer was tested during this period of play.
In the 79th minute Winchester regained the lead when Craig Feeney was fouled and Howard Neighbour converted the resulting penalty. Evesham tried to get back in the game, but Winchester continued to defend well and Craig Feeney came close to adding a third goal.
Winchester made it 3-1 when Andy Jenkinson scored directly from a free kick in the 89th minute and in added on time good work by Feeney set up Green to score a fourth.
The game was a bit niggly at times with several bookings in addition to the sending offs, but even if the final scoreline may have been a bit flattering, there is no doubt that Winchester played well and worked hard as a unit with Jamie Barron a source of strength.
On Saturday Winchester travel to Bishops Cleeve and on the following Tuesday are at home to Bideford.