Highworth Town 1 Winchester City 3
Playing with an unchanged starting line-up from Saturday's victory over Bristol Manor Farm Winchester obtained their 12th league victory and their 7th in away fixtures when they beat Highworth Town 3-1. The result enables 3rd place Winchester to move four points ahead of 4th and 5th placed Paulton Rovers and Larkhall Athletic who played each other on Saturday and drew.
Highworth from the Swindon area are in their 2nd season of Southern League football and prior to that were members of the Hellenic League Premier Division for 24 years finishing in the top half of the table in 17 of the last 21 of these and they also reached the F A Vase semi finals in 2015.
This was the first time that a match between the two clubs has been played on the scheduled
date and the league match between the two clubs at Winchester which was originally scheduled for September has yet to be played as a result of cup commitments and adverse weather, although it has now been rescheduled for February.
Winchester took the lead in the 28th minute through Oli Bailey who scored with a good strike and eight minutes later Highworth drew level when Sam Morris converted a cross from Jacob
Davidge and scored with a volley. Before the opening goal both teams had half chances, although Winchester probably had mote of them although most of their shooting was off target. Towards the end of the first half Highworth Town's Callum Parsons put in a cross that no-one could on the end of.
Early in the second half Connor Johns made a good save to deny Oli Bailey. At the other end
important blocks by the Winchester defence kept out Sam Morris. Winchester however regained the lead when Sam Morris was adjudged to have handled the ball and Winchester captain Jamie Barron converted the resulting penalty. Winchester then made the game safe five minutes from time when Ollie Balmer followed a good run by putting the ball away.
It was a good three points for Winchester who introduced Joe Hayward , Rob Carr and Ollie Griggs as second half substitutes. There were several bookings in the match, but Winchester now average two points per league game with more than half of the season gone.
Winchester 2 Bristol Manor Farm 0
A great team performance enabled Winchester City to beat Bristol Manor Farm and consolidate their third position in the table. Winchester have now recorded victories against 12 of the other 19 teams in their division and 5 of the other 7 they have recorded victories against in the previous season.
It was Winchester's first ever win against Bristol Manor Farm having lost 4 and drawn 1 of the previous 5 games between the clubs, despite having scored first in three of these losses. Bristol Manor Farm went into this match just below mid-table, but they enjoyed a good F A Cup run and recently signed striker Alan Griffin who was until recently at Cirencester Town where last season him and Ben Whitehead were a very dangerous strike force and Alan's elder brother Charlie was until recently Cirencester manager. The Bristol Manor Farm team also contained players such as Jordan Metters who had done well against Winchester in the past.
Winchester had originally only intended to make one change to the starting line-up from Saturday's game with Danny King returning from injury replacing Joe Hayward who dropped to the bench.
However forb the second successive match their plans were disrupted by an injury in the warm up with this time Rob Carr being the injured player, with Oli Bailey coming in for him.
Winchester however made an excellent start when in the fifth minute following a cross from Jamie Barron Simba Mlambo provided a great finish with a superb volley. Jamie Barron had an effort deflected for a corner and Keith Emmerson shot wide, while at the other end Jordan Metters forced a save from Ryan Pryce.
Bearing in mind the history of this fixture Winchester were fully aware that one goal was not enough and the second goal duly came in the 16th minute when Ollie Balmer made a great run and when his effort hit the post Oli Bailey was able to follow up and put the ball away. Before half time Luke King had an effort that the Bristol Manor Farm goalkeeper was only just able to turn round the post for a corner, while at the other end Olly Mehew forced a save from Pryce, but Winchester were vey content to go into the interval with a 2-0 lead.
It was expected that Bristol Manor Farm would come at Winchester in the second half to try and get back in the game, but Winchester played excellently as a unit in the game's second period with Keith Emmerson and Kieran Douglas were immense at the back making important interceptions and keeping the dangerous Griffin quiet. In fact probably the nearest the visitors came to scoring in the second half was a deflected shot that went just wide in the last of five additional minutes at the end of the game. Winchester though came the closest to scoring in the second half with Ollie Bamer forcing a good save from Andrew Collings and from another free kick Douglass headed fractionally wide.
The wind was a factor in the game, but it has to be said that Winchester coped with the conditions better than their opponents and deserved the three points.
Winchester 4 Sholing 0
Winchester's attempt to reach the quarter finals of this competition having already beaten Farnborough and Thatcham was successful as they put four goals past Sholing without reply and in the next round will play away to Paulton Rovers with other teams through being Cirencester, Frome, Hendon, Chesham United, Needham Market and Coalville Town, with three of the other quarter finalists also in the Division 1 South, two in the Central Premier and two in the South Premier.
Winchester made seven changes to the starting line-up from Saturday with only Dan Williamson, captain for the night Joe Hayward, Ollie Balmer and Luke King maintaining their places and Balmer was originally named as substitute, but Kieran Douglas another of Saturday's starters injuring himself in the warm-up. This injury meant that Joe Hayward reverted to centre back and I K Hill to full back. Sholing who had won through three rounds to reach this stage of the competition had beaten Basingstoke 6-1 on this ground only three days ago rested two of their better players in Byron Mason and former Winchester captain Stuart Green both of whom were on the bench.
After Harry Birchnall made a good save early on following a header from a corner which was conceded when Dan Williamson made a good interception to deny Brad Targett, the first half was fairly even with both teams having half chances Winchester went ahead when Oli Bailey got a touch to Craig Davis's free kick and Bailey scored his second before the interval after being set up by Dom Panesar-Dower in a move also involving Davis. Winchester were playing some good football at this stage and Panesar-Dower hit the post, Balmer hit the top of the cross bar and Bailey had a shot saved.
Winchester continued to play well in the second half with the fringe players determined to put themselves in contention for a first team spot. They put together some good passing movements and made some crucial blocks at the other end, while they were also keeping Sholing's goalkeeper Ryan Gosney on his toes.
However as the second half entered its' second period Sholing began to apply some pressure and it was their turn to be denied by the woodwork, but fortunately for Winchester Birchnall made a couple of further good saves, tipping one effort over the bar.
A good piece of play by Panesar-Dower who had been lively throughout and had scored the winner in the league game between the two clubs earlier in the season, enabled him to score the third which put them very much in the driving seat, even if the Thame match in the F A Trophy reminded them that a three goal lead late in the game does not necessarily guarantee victory.
Winchester though introduced youngsters Ewan Haylor, Jordan Preston and Jacob Brown as substitutes in the second half and for these three youngsters and Birchnall and Jack Francis it was good experience and it was also a chance for the likes of Panesar-Dower, I K Hill and Ollie Griggs and Oli Bailey to get some valuable game time with experienced player manager Craig Davis on the field to guide them.
Haylor in particular made some excellent runs on the left hand side and from one of these he created the fourth goal for fellow substitute Preston to complete the victory,
Simba Mlambo was on the bench, but other regular first team squad members who did not play in this match such as Ryan Pryce, Keith Emmerson, Kieran Douglas, Jamie Barron and Dan King all came along to lend their support to their fellow players.
AFC Totton 0 Winchester City 0
A crowd of 252 saw Winchester draw 0-0 away to AFC Totton, which represented Winchester's first goalless draw since their game at Cinderford finished all square on the final day of last season. However with Paulton and Evesham both losing the point enabled them to consolidate their third position in the table.
The crowd for this local derby was enhanced by at least a dozen supporters of Eastleigh whose team did not have a game due to their scheduled match with AFC Fylde being postponed to the Lancashire club's F A Cup tie with Sheffield United, but it is fair to say that with several people on both sides having links with both clubs matches between them are always eagerly anticipated.
Surprisingly AFC Totton are near the wrong end of the table, but they enjoyed an excellent win over Moneyfields recently and will no doubt be looking to climb the table in 2020.
Winchester made one change to the starting line-up from Wednesday with Joe Hayward coming in for the injured Danny King. Early in proceedings a header following a corner from Jack Smith was blocked by Max Smith, while at the other end Ollie Balmer had a good chance but shot wide. Generally the first half was devoid of goalmouth action, but Winchester if anything looked the more likely side to score and Balmer had a free lick well saved by the home goalkeeper. A free kick from Barron also forced a routine save from the goalkeeper. Dan Williamson playing at right back with Joe Hayward at left back was also overlapping to good effect and he almost created a chance for Simba Mlambo and Luke King also came close following a Jamie Barron corner. Winchester were looking solid at the back and were not allowing the home forwards much space.
In the second half Amadeusz Skryniarz made a good save from Luke King and it is fair to say that he was the busier of the two goalkeepers with Ryan Pryce not having more than routine saves to make and his defenders making important blocks to keep out the home forwards. As the second half progressed a 0-0 looked increasingly likely. Winchester bought on Oli Baiiey, I K Hill and Ollie Griggs to replace Simba Mlambo, Rob Carr and Max Smith. Towards the end AFC Totton's former Winchester striker Craig Feeney broke clear on the left, but no-one could get a decisive touch to his cross and the match remained goalless.
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!