Torquay 4 Winchester 1
Winchester's great F A Cup run which had seen them eliminate two higher division clubs despite being drawn away from home, and also beat a team who had beaten them in six previous encounters came to an end when they were beaten 4-1 by a Torquay team who have been in good form of late under new manager Gary Johnson.
Nevertheless it was a memorable experience in many ways with a coachload of supporters who cheered their team throughout the game and put up sixteen banners behind the goal to add to the colourful atmosphere and their number included Vince Rusher father of Reece and a notable player in his day, with Reece having many other supporters to cheer him on as he came on as substitute later in the game. However the team as a whole showed great appreciation of the supporters by at the end of the game coming onto the supporters coach and shaking their hands individually which was a magnificent gesture.
Winchester were playing in the 4th qualifying round of the competition for the first time in over 60 years, whereas Torquay had played in the 1st round proper every season from 1925/26 to 2013/14 and had been in the 4th qualifying round every subsequent season. Their 1-0 win against a West Ham team containing Phil Parkes and Alvin Martin, and their two late goals to earn a replay against Tottenham Hotspur team containing Jimmy Greaves and Alan Mullery are very much part of F A Cup folklore.
For the match itself Winchester made one change to the starting line-up from Tuesday with Tyrell Mitford coming in for Rusher who was on the bench, while former Winchester City favourite Brett Williams was on the Torquay bench. Jamie Reid was their hat-trick hero of the previous week and his ability at free kicks first came to the attention of local fans six years ago when he scored a last minute winner for Dorchester in Ian Baird's last midweek match as Eastleigh manager. The recently installed Torquay manager Gary Johnson has managed the Latvian national team, Bristol City and was at the helm when Cheltenham returned to the football league.
Winchester started the game promisingly and had an effort blocked early on, but for the home team both Saikou Janneh and Asa Hall both had shots that went narrowly wide, while Reid had an effort deflected for a corner and Brad Gale cleated on the goal line at the expense of a corner, but Winchester were playing with great determination and getting in some good blocks to frustrate the home team.
When Torquay's first goal came in the 38th minute it had an air of good fortune about it. Many people thought that Simba Mlambo had been fouled in the build up to it and then Kalvin Kalala's shot was deflected past goalkeeper Ryan Pryce into the net. and was 2-0 three minutes later when Janneh headed home a cross from Reid and in added on time at the end of the first half when although Ryan Pryce made a good save from Reid Connor Lemonheigh-Evans was on hand to score. Just before the third goal Winchester had a free kick in a dangerous position, but Mitford's effort was blocked.
With the three late first half goals giving them a clear initiative Torquay pressed at the start of the second half and forced Ryan Pryce to make one good save, However in the 54th minute they made it 4-0 when Liam Davis cut the ball back for Lemonheigh-Evans to score his second.
At that stage with 4 goals scored in 16 minutes one feared that there were more Torquay goals to come, but to their great credit Winchester kept battling and although Pryce was called into action a couple of times Joe Cook had an effort saved and Jamie Barron had a couple of free kicks just off target.
The visitors pulled a goal back when Oli Bailey broke clear and was fouled by the home goalkeeper who was booked as a result, with Joe Hayward converting the resultant penalty.
Hayward then received a second yellow card for throwing the ball away and although the referee was consistent in that he booked a home player for proceeding with his attempt on goal even when the referee had already blown his whistle for an infringement one felt that a final warning would have sufficed in this case.
Winchester introduced Rusher, Joe Griggs and Brett Cunningham as substitutes during the game's second period and the ten men of Winchester continued to battle with the remainder of the game passing without major incident, although Brett Williams who had come on as substitute had one effort that went narrowly wide.
Winchester were one of only three clubs in the 4th qualifying round who play at step 4 and below and the only one of these in the Southern half of the draw.
Manager Craig Davis heaped praise on his side afterwards saying "Everyone is proud of what we have achieved during this cup run".
Before the game a minute's silence was observed in respect of two long serving members and one youngster from Torquay football club who have recently passed away. This week sees the funerals of Winchester stalwarts Terry Bone whose funeral is on Tuesday and Tina Elkins whose funeral is on Friday.
On Tuesday Winchester are away to AFC Totton and on Saturday they are at home to Highworth with both of these games being rearranged fixtures.