Winchester 2 Bideford 2
Winchester's 2-2 draw with Bideford was undoubtedly influenced by incessant rain throughout the game, but both sides gave their all in the conditions and overall a draw was a fair result.
The Winchester pitch was passed fit at 11am and with Bideford already on their way they were keen to get the game on even with heavy rain forecast and in the end the pitch held up well considering how much rain fell between the pitch inspection and the finish of the game.
A crowd of 115 braved the elements to see the game and these included several sports studies students from Barton Peveril College, Eastleigh who were assessing aspects of the game.
Winchester went into the match having won their last four matches, while Bideford were on a run of five successive losses. However having only narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season and having a very good travelling support as well as a fairly strong squad on paper Bideford are expected to return to form soon.
Winchester made one change to the starting line-up from Saturday's game at Street with centre back Rob Flooks out with a knee injury and winger Rob Carr coming in with positional changes being made to accommodate this.
Early on Winchester's Liam Gilbert had an effort blocked and Tyrell Mitford had an effort that was off target, From a Carr cross Oli Bailey was just able to get a touch to the ball, but was not quite able to direct the ball goalwards. Tyrell Mitford also hit the post, but although Winchester had the better chances it was by no means a one sided game.
Winchester however took the lead in the 35th minute when Oli Bailey put Tyrell Mitford clear and the striker made no mistake. Bideford gave notice of what they were capable of when Niall Heeney headed just over following a cross from Billy Tucker and five minutes before the interval the visitors drew level with an excellent strike from their captain Ben Carter. Although Rob Carr came close for Winchester, Bideford's confidence was boosted by the goal with Sean Downing very much a creative influence and Ryan Turner came close to giving the visitors the lead.
Budeford did gain the lead early in the second half through Downing who also scored in last season's game between the clubs at Bideford finding the net with another good strike. However the lead did not last very long as 10 minutes into the second half a corner was not cleared and Josh Harfield was on hand to score.
After four goals had been scored in just over 20 minutes that was the end of the scoring, and although in the remainder of the game both teams forced several corners both defences did enough to ensure that few clear cut chances were created.
In the second half Olly Griggs, George Williams and I K Hill came on as second half substitute with Williams only having recently joined the club.
Attendance 115 Entertainment *** Star Man Sean Downing (Bideford)
On Saturday Winchester travel to Bristol Manor Farm and after the game the players have a Christmas meal at the club. Happy Christmas to everyone.
Sean Birchnall who is head coach of the Army senior team has joined the Winchester management team.