Larkhall Athletic 3 Winchester City 1
Larkhall obtained their first ever victory against Winchester and maintain third place, while as a result of other results going against them Winchester drop to seventh. Prior to Saturday Winchester drop to seventh. Prior to Saturday Winchester had emerged victorious on all four visits to Larkhall's picturesque ground located on the top of a hill on the outskirts of Bath.
Winchester made three changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday's game at Cirencester with Liam Gilbert, Max Smith and I K Hill coming in for Ollie Griggs, Ollie Balmer and Oli Bailey with the last two named on the bench. Of the injured players Luke King is likely to be out for the remainder of the season, Danny King hopes to return soon, while they continue to miss the commanding figure of Keith Emmerson at the back.
Larkhall started the game very brightly and dominated the first 10 minutes. However their opening goal in the 7th minute had an element of good fortune about it as a shot from Brad Norris took a huge deflection past Ryan Pryce. In fairness Winchester were against a strong wind in the first half, but despite this they still drew level in the 29th minute when Kieran Douglas headed home a corner.
Unfortunately for Winchester their hopes of taking advantage of the wind in the second half were reduced when the wind began to recede in the second period of the game. The second half was a very even contest with both teams having their attacking moments and Larkhall's leading scorer Lewis Powell hitting the side netting In the 72nd minute Joe Tumelty who had scored for Bristol Manor Farm against Winchester on the opening day of the season regained the lead for the home side, with again the ball taking a deflection on its' way in
Winchester were then pushing forward in terms of an equalizer, but in the 80th minute a Winchester defender in trying to clear only succeeded in kicking the ball against Norris who scored his second of the game to make sure that the three points were won by Larkhall mho are a club good on the hospitality side of things and are only in their sixth season as a Southern League club, with every chance of reaching the playoffs of this division for only the second time.
Cinderford 3 Winchester 1
Despite losing 3-1 to Cinderford Winchester remained fourth in the table, but the division is very tight with Cinderford in ninth place only five points behind. The result enabled Cinderford to complete the double against Winchester having won 3-0 at Winchester in September with James Harding and Craig Norman scoring in both games. Last season a great late run enabled Cinderford to reach the playoffs and the possibility of the club from the Forest of Dean achieving that this season cannot be discounted,
Winchester were again without Keith Emmerson, Luke King and Danny King with the last named also missing the home fixture with Cinderford. Whereas replacements can be found from the squad Emmerson's value to Winchester in recent weeks has been immense, while King has been Winchester;'s left back for the majority of the last 10 years and it is a challenge for players filling a different role to what they normally play to fit seamlessly into the team.
Winchester made one change to the starting line-up from Tuesday with Liam Gilbert coming in for Max Smith. Early on Ollie Griggs had an effort that went wide, but Cinderford took the lead in the 13th minute when Harding scored directly from a free kick, After going a goal behind Winchester had a good spell of pressure with both Oli Bailey and Rob Carr having one shot saved and shooting wide on another occasion . However in the 31st minute Lewis Bamford who had a good scoring record against Winchester while in the colours of Bristol Manor Farm made it 2-0 and that is the way it stayed until the half time interval.
Winchester though continued to press in the second half with Ollie Griggs shooting just wide, a cross from player manager hitting the bar and the Cnderford goalkeeper making a good save fro from the Cundwserd goalkeeper wit Simba Mlambo shooting the follow up effort. It was not all one way traffic with Cinderrford always looking dangerous on the break.
Midway through the second half Winchester pulled a goal back when Ollie Balmer who had only just replaced Simba Mlambo set up Oli Bailey to score. Cinderford were reduced to 10 men when Sam Turl received his second booking following a deliberate handball.
Craig Davis and Ollie Griggs had off target efforts for Winchester, but as the visitors pushed forward in search of an equalizer Norman scores Cinderford's third during the six minutes of added on time.
Winchester 2 Highworth 2
For the second successive season Highworth';s visit to Winchester resulted in the match finishing all square. Winchester were without defenders Keith Emmerson and Danny King and with Luke King still injured player manager Craig Davis took Emmerson's place at centre back, while Joe Hayward filled the left back position. Simba Mlambo came in for Ollie Balmer who dropped to the bench as the only other change from Saturday.
Highworth managed by former Basingstoke central defender Ross Adams and club legend John Fisher were only able to name three substitutes. However they came into this match having beaten Basingstoke 4-2 on Saturday.
The first 20 minutes did not produce much goalmouth action with virtually all the shooting off target with Highworth's Sam Morris coming the closest, but Winchester took the lead in the 21st minute when Jamie Barron';s ball found Oli Bailey who struck the ball away following the first meaningful attack of the game Highworth did draw level in the 34th minute when Matt Cheetham set up Calllum Mcghee-Parsons and the former Swindon-Supermarine player scored with a well struck shot. In the minute of added on time Winchester surrendered possession and Edjidja Mbunga cross from the right enabled Mcghee-Parsons to score his second. It was the third successive home match in Winchester had trailed at the interval.
In the second half Connor Johns in the Highworth goal made a good save to deny Kieran Douglas, but although Winchester were getting a few free kicks in dangerous positions they were finding Highworth difficult to break down and the visitors were dangerous on the break with Mcghee-Parsons coming close again and their wingers were keeping the Winchester defence on their toes.
Winchester introduced three substitutes with Balmer, I K Hill and Dom Panesar-Dower all entering the fray at various stages of the second half . but it was not until the 82nd minute when they drew level when Jamie Barron converted a penalty awarded for hand ball against Ryan Morgan. Highworth's :Leon Morrison received a straight red card for a late tackle, but although Winchester applied a lot of pressure in the closing minutes with Dan Comer making a goal line clearance to deny Balmer and deflecting another effort for a corner, but with a man advantage Winchester could not find the winner with the teams being evenly matched over the 90 minutes.
Winchester City 0 Sholing 1
Winchester suffered their first home league defeat since September as they went down 1-0 to local rivals Sholing who they had previously this season beaten in both the league and league cup. Sholing are currently in the lower half of table, but their results have improved in recent weeks and have signed former Winchester captain Stuart Green. This was their 40th game of the season and they still have 18 league games still play. In midweek they had beaten an in form Melksham team in the league and progressed in the Southampton Senior Cup with victory against Hamble Club.
Winchester made two changes to the starting line-up from the previous Saturday with captain Jamie Barron returning and Ollie Griggs also coming in with Simba Mlambo dropping to the bench and Luke King not featuring,
In conditions that were affected by the wind throughout Winchester made a reasonably bright start with Jamie Barron coming close with a free kick and Keith Emmerson also having an effort that was off target. Oli Bailey just failed to get a decisive touch following a ball from Jamie Barron. However Sholing began to come more into the game with Dan Mason shooting wide and a crucial block by a Winchester defender denying them. They also had what they thought was a good claim for a penalty turned down, but they took the lead in the 34th minute when Jake Hoole converted a cross from Brad Targett. Sholing were able to go into half time 1-0 ahead without Winchester threatening their goal during the remainder of the first half.
Brad Targett hit the post for the visitors, and Ryan Pryce making a block to deny Stuart Green. Winchester though struggled to get anything going up front with the experienced Byron Mason alongside Owen Roundell an effective centre back pairing and the threat of the influential Jamie Barron in midfield being well cut out Winchester were struggling to create openings even though they bought Sinba Mlambo, Liam Gilbert and Joe Hayward coming on as substitutes for Ollie Balmer, Ollie Griggs and Danny King respectively, Towards the end Pryce made a good save from a header from Green and in the last minute of normal time following a cross from Dan Williamson Rob Carr forced a save from Ryan Gosney, but it has said that Winchester never looked like scoring after falling behind.
There was no doubt that overall Sholing deserved their win and the wily Dave Diaper the Sholing manager who is into his third decade at the club got his tactics right for the game. Sholing captain Byron Mason was making his 600th appearance for the club, and he was playing alongside his brother Dan and between them the three Mason brothers who also include Barry have made over 1500 appearances for the club between them and not many footballing brothers can match that.
Winchester City 5-1 Basingstoke Town
Fantastic result against Basingstoke today, a side who we totally blew away and how it wasn’t several goals more is still baffling me!! They have not been thrashed like that many times this year, they have been in games most of the time, not today we really did turn them over and it’s a good start to the new year!
We shuffled the pack slightly from Boxing Day as we are going to need to do over the coming weeks! We really did play some good stuff and the amount of chances we carved and missed was crazy! We went ahead with a Luke king header, then a further with Olly Balmer volleying in! 2-0 at break.
2nd half we again put them to the sword and Kieran Douglas scored with 2 headers and Griggsy a thunderous strike! They got a late consolation as we got slightly sloppy! Honestly it should have been double figures and how it wasn’t I don’t know, we have to be more clinical than that, however some of the football was top class!
So that’s put us 3rd in the league on January 1st, to say we are punching above our weight is an understatement and the football in my opinion is exciting, I am proud of my team and staff every game, win lose or draw, they do it the right way!
Next up we have Totton who had a brilliant win at moneyfields today so they will be bouyant, they have good players and are too good to be at bottom end of table, for sure it will be as tough a game as all the games against the top sides, we will recover the lads and get ready for it!
Happy new year to everyone and see you Saturday!
Up the citizens!
Thatcham Town 2-1 Winchester City
Disappointing result today but far from disgraced ourselves against top of the league Thatcham today, we didn’t get going at all in the first half however 2nd half we were the better side but couldn’t get the equaliser we probably deserved! I would say can’t argue with result though as they were the better team in first half for sure.
We went with the side that played so well In the second half against willand, however on am incredibly narrow pitch against a very robust side we really struggled badly to get any rhythm, they changed their shape which I guess is a sign of respect for us, they definitely had the better of first half but didn’t overly trouble Prycey until they scored just before the break.
Second half totally different and we were a bit braver on the ball and equalised with a typical us goal, flowing move down the left and Balmer to Baz to carr for a good goal. Annoyingly a deflected goal quickly after rocked us... we then made changes to shape and personnel and had a good go at them but it just wasn’t quite our day!
Much much better second half and a decent effort against a good side, I hate losing but it’s no disgrace and I am proud of each and every one of the group for their efforts! 5th in the league at turn of the year with us punching a mile above our weight budget and facility wise, well done everyone!
Now we get ready for Basingstoke at home which won’t be easy but we look forward to it very much as always!
Happy new year when it comes to all!
Up the citizens
Winchester City 3-0 Willand Rovers
Well that was most pleasing, for me it was a dominant display and gave everyone a good look at what we have been working hard on in training! They are a great bunch of lads who give everything for the club and for me and I couldn’t be more pleased for them to get the results they do, in my opinion they should be getting more accolades than they do, the amount of difficulties they face and the financial rewards they could get elsewhere are massive, they are all absolute facts that people probably don’t realise but they are! Plus a staff who don’t get a penny for what they do, I am so proud to manage this group and this club and whatever happens I am proud of what we have done and how we have done it!
Today, we could have should have been well ahead in first half but 1 was all we got and a great clearance from Hayward kept us ahead on stroke of half time which would have been a travesty!
2nd half we blew them away and scored to but it could have been 7/8! Baz with a hat trick. Very good display all around and it is tough to pick an MOM but for me a couple of lads who often don’t get the praise on here, Kieran Douglas who we have worked on as developed massively and is potentially an absolute star for the future! Plus Luke King who has been a rock in CM and steady and physical and is a major loss when not around! Willand were brushed aside really like they are an average side, believe me they are good, they won 6 out of last 7 and top drawer forward line so it was a very good win.
One final thing, in my opinion, the crowds that we are getting I cannot fathom! We are the highest place the club has ever been (yes I know you had what I will call the Warren Bentley season) and finished in the playoffs but other than that we are higher by a long way, I would say we play some of the best brand of football in the league and yet the crowds are so low... I only hope that enough noise is made of what we have here in this group! People will say not much is said on here, however Steve is posting every thing and yet the crowds are lower than when he wasn’t and DOF was rightfully having a bit of a moan. Is enough said about what is happening on the pitch, probably not, not many posts are on here, if we lose a couple of games the warriors will be out to dig at us though! I honestly am not worried about any praise personally, however this group of lads are deserving of so much more than they are getting in every single aspect! I hope they are appreciated.
Onto he next one against Bideford next Saturday, a good weeks training and a club Christmas meal first though which will be great.
Up the citizens!!
Frome 0-2 Winchester City
Very much gutted about the result but far from gutted about the display especially in the 2nd half which was outstanding!
Unfortunately we lost Emmo to a head injury which effected us and a fairly average 1st half display despite having some great chances we came in 1-0 down.
2nd half we were excellent and dominated but couldn’t score and they killed it as a contest with 10 to go!
We just came up short but it’s no disgrace and I was proud of my group of players! Whether anyone wants or doesn’t want me to say it we are fighting with a budget that is far far lower than the vast majority in our league and more than a match for everyone! I wouldn’t swap my group of lads for any others, I will big them up and defend them against anyone who wants to say whatever they like! Whether that means I take criticism or moans at me etc well so be it!
Anyone who knows the ins and outs will know we have a group of lads performing miracles and they won’t ever give up! Whether we are good enough to get what everyone hopes at end of the season I don’t know the answer to, what I can categorically say is we will finish a d**n site higher than our respective budget and that’s a credit to the effort of the lads and my staff who I am so grateful for.
Sorry we didn’t get the result, thanks to the supporters who made train journeys as no coach etc to the game and to my players who made their own ways as well! We go again against Highworth on Tuesday!
Up the winch!