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NEXT MATCH: Bideford (a)|Evo-Stik South Division 1 (West)|Sat 28th April 2018 3pm

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Winchester City 2-0 North Leigh

Enjoyed that today, tough game with the pitch extremely bumpy as it’s dried out unbelievably which made us trying to pass it very difficult, without us having much height in attack it means you can’t just lump the ball up there, so we got caught over playing without success early on. As the game wore on though we got our game going and a catalogue of missed chances would have left it a travesty if they had broke and scored, in reality it never looked like happening and we got a 2nd and good job done! 

Selection was tough today as Macca, IK and Harvey all 17 year olds and had played 90 minutes on Thursday night, plus Adam Tomasso reported in with a tweaked knee ligament, in truth I would have played Adam if the game was a do or die encounter, however with us being without Harfield on Tuesday through suspension we thought best to not risk him at all. 

Scrappy start to the game with us giving the ball away a fair bit and them not really threatening at any point, we eventually got our game going and a quite fantastic free kick from Rob Carr opened the scoring, a few chances came and went and we started opening them up but 1-0 at the break.

2nd half I thought was totally dominated by us and we could have and should have scored several more, in the end a near finish from Oli Bailey after latching onto a clearance gave us the comfort of a 2-0, we had good contributions from Simba, IK and Harvey Clark who in fact nearly set up a goal with his first touch, great to see! Harvey by the way was outstanding in the youth teams unfortunate 2-0 cup final loss on Thursday and along with a few others are real stars for the future that we are trying to nurture and it’s great to see them growing with us! 

All in all a good result and a very decent display (at times) - given the circumstances of a heavy loss and being a bit down after the play off dream has now slipped by, to see the lads battle and work hard for the victory shows the character of them and I’m delighted with them.

Club stalwart Malcolm in fact advised me that we are 2 points away (if cinderford win all 5 of their remaining games this season which seems unlikely anyway, if they drop any points we can’t be overtaken) from confirming a top half finish, apparently that’s only the 2nd time this club has ever achieved that at step 4, so we can be proud of that, far from the sort of achievement that we as a group have worked so hard for, however it shows we are not a massive player at this level over the years, hopefully this is a good platform for us to build from!!

Once again thanks for the support and hope you enjoyed the game.

Up the citizens!!

Davo

Winchester City 0-5 Taunton Town

That was a rather sobering experience to be brutally honest and I am sorry that we got rolled over like that, it certainly hurt me and will have the players as well. 

One thing I must stress is, Taunton are a very good side and are capable of rolling any side over, they are unbeaten away from home all season which is very impressive and they will be even bigger champions than Hereford were last year I believe by the end of the season. Not only that it was the 5th game in 10 days for our lads, all of which were possibly the hardest fixtures you could put together and we most certainly looked a very tired side, that is understandable I guess but not an excuse I like to use. 

As for the game, 2 of the best strikes you are likely to see in the 1st half put them 2-0 up at the break. 2nd half we came out and looked much more like our old selves and got a bit of a head of steam up! Then 3 calamitous goals, 1 a horrible miss kick from Prycey, then a slip from Josh and the other allowing 3 free headers in our 6 yard box and we are 5-0 down. Add in Josh getting sent off when another defensive error meant he had to make a last ditch tackle and he was duly sent off. We had to dig in for 20/25 minutes with a man less and the score could have got very embarrassing with all the factors I mentioned above. To the lads credit the kept going and kept them at bay, 5-0 is embarrassing enough that’s for sure but we kept the score down as all things were crashing down around us and with the fatigue feeling even worse in the lads. 

One big positive was a debut for 17 year old Harvey Clark and another good display from Josh McCormick coming on as sub, I walked away from tonight very pleased with both of them.

It really is one you have to try and forget about as a group, it was a bridge too far physically, however you cannot legislate for the quality of the early strikes and the horrific goals in 2nd half.

We will regroup and try and recover the lads, then get ready for a game against North Leigh on Saturday and try and get over tonight’s game! First up though is a youth hants cup final which we are all delighted to watch, they are a fantastic group of lads and we will be willing them onto glory! 

Apologies to all for today, horrible night but we will make up for it as best we can in remaining 3 games.

Up the citizens! 

Davo

Swindon Supermarine 1-1 Winchester City

All i can say after that today is I’m immensely proud of every single one of the boys for this weeks efforts! It would have been a travesty to have lost another game today, against a side who were 4/5th in the league, have had a completely free week, 1-0 down and our levels of fitness and desire to get a goal back and then try and push on to win it as well was unreal! I couldn’t ask for much more, yes we have fallen short of the play off dreamland, however the last few weeks run of games against the top sides has given me so much confidence that we are going about things correctly, we also do things with grace and that’s important to me as well! We have a fantastic platform to build from and these games recently have convinced me of this more and more! 

We freshened it up again today putting me back in who rested Thursday and IK a start in place of Simba and Joe Cook who I didn’t want to risk 2 games in 3 days after such a long lay off! We started the game ok and most of the 1st half was fairly end to end but a scrappy goal had us 1-0 down at the break. 

We were much the better side in the 2nd half and their committee even said only 1 side looked like winning it in the end! We had to take Oli off early in 2nd half due to a dead leg, we then made another change with me coming off for young Macca and we had been well on top, my header saved, Simba shot saved... then Simba went around the keeper and somehow their defender cleared off the line, they went straight up the other end with us committing men forward and they got through and hit the post! We went again and Rob Carr burst through and a clinical finish levelled us up which was the least we deserved! 

Once again I will salute the efforts of the boys and the quality and fitness levels of them all, I have given them tomorrow off!!! :) we then go and take on the champions on Tuesday night which will be yet another test and challenge for our boys!!

Massive thanks to our band of vocal supporters who once again were there for us, all the boys appreciate it and I hope you are all enjoying the efforts the boys put in!

Up the citizens!!

Davo

AFC Totton 1-0 Winchester City

What a horrible feeling to lose that game today! 

I won’t say too much on it, our lads battled very hard and certainly harsh to come out of it losing 1-0, performance was a bit leggy compared to Tuesday but not using that as an excuse, ultimately a very poor straight through the middle goal early on was the difference, plenty of good chances and pressure didn’t result in a goal and that’s all that anyone will care about at this stage unfortunately. Referees performance was extremely poor but will let others comment on that, very difficult to keep any sort of cool with him I must admit. 

Gutted with the result but couldn’t have asked for a lot more from the lads in most ways, slightly down on quality at times compared to where we can be, no lack of effort though and the result is a hard one to accept. 

We roll onto yet another one Saturday now away to Swindon and we have to go and do what we can in that game! 

Up the citizens!

Winchester 2 North Leigh 0

After four games without a league win Winchester returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against North Leigh, a result which virtually ensured them of a top half of the table, with Cinderford who have a large points deficit to make up in a congested end of season fixture list the only bottom half of the table able to catch them.

 

Winchester made two changed to the starting line-up from Tuesday's game against Taunton with Craig Davis and Joe Hayward replacing Simba Mlambo and Adam Tomasso.

 

North Leigh are in the lower half of the table, but this was their first ever away defeat against Winchester in what Winchester manager Craig Davis described as "A good win I which we missed several chances".  North Leigh were without George Seacole and their manager John Brough as a substitute. 

 

Early on Ryan Pryce in the Winchester goal made a good save from Josh Thomas.  However Winchester took the lead in the 25th minute when Rob Carr scored with a superbly struck free kick.  Oli Bailey then was put through, but North Leigh goalkeeper Ross Grimshaw made a good save to deny him.  Carr then set up Dan Williamson who was playing on the right hand side of midfield, but his effort was blocked.  Winchester also had a possible penalty turned down when they felt Oli Bailey may have been pushed.

 

Winchester mainly dominated the second half, although Declan Sheppard forced a save from Pryce.  Rob Carr had a shot saved, Williamson had a shot tipped over, Gilbert shot wide and Bailey also went close.  However while they were only one goal ahead there was always a danger that North Leigh could snatch an equalizer on the break, but Oli Bailey made the points safe in the 86th minute when he scored with a well executed lob.

 

Winchester conclude the season this week with a home game against Cirencester on Tuesday and an away game against Bideford on Saturday

Winchester 0 Taunton 5

Winchester suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when they were beaten 5-0 by champions Taunton who maintained their unbeaten record and became only the second team to complete the league double over Winchester this season.   As a result Winchester only maintained the faintest mathematical hope of reaching the playoffs and these hopes completely evaporated as a result of Evesham and Swindon Supermarine picking up points two days later.

 

Winchester made two changes to the starting line-up from Saturday with Joe Cook and Simba Mlambo coming in for Craig Davis and I K Hill.

 

Before the game a guard of honour was formed to commemorate Taunton's title success.  However the home team fell behind in the 3rd minute when Craig Veal scored with a spectacular strike into the top corner.  Ten minutes later Taunton captain Matt Wright met a Craig Veal cross from the right with a superb volley.  Ryan Pryce in the Winchester goal then saved with his legs to deny Veal whose follow up shot was off target.

 

The only real shot Winchester had in the first half was an effort from Simba Mlambo that was saved with the follow up shot being off target.

 

Taunton had a goal disallowed following a corner, but still went into the interval with a comfortable 2-0 lead.

 

Any hope Winchester had of getting back in the game more or less disappeared early in the second half when  the bobbly pitch deceived goalkeeper Ryan Pryce and Veal took full advantage to score his second of the game,  After 57 minutes they fell further behind when after Wright's header hit the bar the ball was put back into his path and he scored from close range.

 

Winchester introduced youngsters Harvey Clark and Josh McCormick as second half substitutes, but Taunton made it 5-0 when Veal won the ball with a tackle and

crossed for Wright to complete his hat-trick.  The home team had Josh Harfield sent off for a professional foul on Veal and although they did not create any chances of their own and Taunton had a few near misses they avoided conceding again as the hectic schedule of the last few days began to take its' toll, without taking anything away from the visitors who played some superb football and exploited Winchester deficiencies to the full. 

Winchester 4 Yate 1

Winchester playing their first match for two weeks beat Yate 4-1 with a good team performance.  Yate themselves were just behind Winchester in the table, with both teams being outsiders for a playoff place, although Winchester's win keeps them very much in the race despite having a difficult end of season to negotiate.

 

With Pat Cox having left the club and Ollie Griggs having completed his loan spell from Dorchester Winchester made two changes to the starting line-up with Liam Gilbert and Adam Tomasso coming in.  Joe Cook who like Gilbert was returning after a lengthy absence was on the substitutes bench.

 

Winchester were operating with a five man midfield with just Oli Bailey up front. Bailey headed just wide early on from a Rob Carr cross and it required a block from an opposing defender to keep out.  Harvey Rivers in the Yate goal who last season gave a superb performance in keeping Winchester out in the last match before Craig Davis took over then made an excellent save to deny Gilbert at the expense of a corner.

 

Winchester however took the lead in the 24th minute when captain Jamie Barron set up Bailey who made no mistake. Winchester continued to press and both Bailey and Dan Williamson forced saves from Rivers.  It was 2-0 with 3 minutes to go to half time when although Williamson's shot appeared to be mistimed it appeared to be entering the net until Barron got the final touch.

 

Yate had hardly a shot in the first half which Winchester clearly dominated, but at the start of the second half they hit the side netting.  Winchester however responded well with Rob Carr hitting the bar with a thunderous effort, and Liam Gilbert having an effort deflected for a corner.  From Carr's corner Adam Tomasso scored with a diving header to make it 3-0 after 53 minutes.  It was the loyal Tomasso's first goal of the season.

 

Winchester had a couple of half chances but Yate then forced Ryan Pryce to make his first save of the game when he saved from Tom Mellew.  Winchester however made it 4-0 when the referee played a good advantage when substitute Simba Mlambo who looked impressive after coming on converted a cross from Danny King for his 3rd goal of the season.  Winchester in fact used all three substitutes as they chose to rest players for the challenges that lie ahead.

 

Joe Hayward who has settled into the team well at right back then made a couple of important and well executed blocks to keep the visitors out.  Yate did pull a goal back when Trey Anderson converted a cross from David Sims-Burgess, although a Winchester defender may have also got a touch.  Before the end Williamson had a further shot saved by Rivers as Winchester scored four goals in a league game for the first time in 2018.

 

Winchester have away games at Salisbury, AFC Totton and Swindon Supermarine on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday respectively, while on the following Tuesday ey are at home to Taunton Town.

 

Mary Finlayson who was an enthusiastic follower of both Winchester City and Eastleigh and was involved in local coaching has died in a Derbyshire hospital aged 45.

Evesham 1 Winchester City 0

Winchester were beaten 1-0 at Evesham and drop to 11th place in a closely contested promotion race, but with 24 points still to play for and things so tight in the playoff zone they are still very much in the race for a playoff place, especially as they were unlucky to lose at Evesham.

 

Evesham are in their 26th successive season as a Southern League club, with four of these seasons being spent in the Premier Division.  They have a spacious clubhouse, plenty of experienced players including former Salisbury goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer, and attracted a crowd of over 200 for Saturday's game.

 

Winchester's starting eleven plus substitutes was the same as that which played the previous Saturday against Slimbridge.

 

In the first minute of the game Winchester goalkeeper Ryan Prycw had to save from Jordan Bryan following a cross from Garyn Preen, while a powerful shot from Lewis Powell was wide as were a couple of other shots from the home side were just off target.

 

Winchester however came more into the game as the half progressed.  From an Oli Bailey cross Pat Cox shot over, while Rob Carr hit the outside of the post following good work from Cox.  They also had a penalty appeal turned down and Pat Cox was just unable to keep the ball in play despite a valiant effort to reach the ball, when a cross would have put the ball across the goal.

 

At the other end Matt Liddiard had a shot saved and Paul Fahy who could come on as substitute midway through the first half on his last appearance for the club before moving to Finland was unable to get his header on target and the teams wen into interval with the deadlock yet to be broken.

 

In the second half from a Carr cross Oli Bailey shot just wide, while Bailey had a shot saved by Sawyer.  Shortly after this Matt Bennett put in a good cross for the home team and their skipper Adam Mann was on hand to score.

 

Winchester then had more than 35 minutes to draw level, but whenever they threatened Kevin Sawyer was a commanding figure and he did not really look like being beaten.  Jamie Barron was only just off target with a free kick, but probably the nearest we came to a further goal was when Andy Lewis had an effort saved by Pryce and the follow up shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.

 

Winchester had the welcome sight of Liam Gilbert coming on as substitute for Olly Griggs who had been booked and was on his final warning, but despite giving a good account of themselves Winchester suffered a defeat to one of their playoff rivals.

 

On Saturday they are at home to in-form Cirencester and on Easter Monday away to AFC Totton.

 

 

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