Winchester 3 Cirencester 2
Winchester obtained their first ever league win against Cirencester having lost all of the previous games between the clubs. The result means they are seventh just one point outside the playoffs. They were without Joe Cook who was suspended and Robbie Flooks who failed a late fitness test with Graham Williams (a namesake of a former F A Cup winning captain) coming in at centre back and Danny King returning to the side, with Jake Rawkins playing further up field as the only two changes to the starting line-up from the previous Saturday.
Cirencester themselves were without Alan Griffin younger brother of Charlie, having been sent off the previous week in another a 3-2 defeat to Blackfield in which on loan Eastleigh striker Ollie Dennett had scored the winning goal. Prior to this game Cirencester had scored 13 more league goals than any other club in the league than any other team in the division with the partnership of the younger Griffin brother and Ben Whitehead being instrumental in this.
Winchester started the match brightly with Oli Bailey shooting wide early on and then setting up Simba Mlambo whose effort was saved by the Cirencester goalkeeper. Bailey's ability to chase everything certainly kept the Cirencester defence on their toes and if his first touch had not just carried the ball forward slightly too far he could have almost been clean through.
Winchester did take the lead in the 17th minute when Rob Carr played the ball into the box and it was put away by Mlambo. Although Michael Pook came close with a lob and Antonio Gerrish forcing a good save from Pryce Winchester continued to look the more threatening and they put together a couple of good moves which resulted in Oli Bailey and Simba Mlambo shooting wide.
Winchester did score the second when after Jake Rawkins had an effort deflected for a corner. the resulting corner taken by Jamie Barron was headed into the net. Simba Mlambo was in close proximity when the ball was headed in and it was thought in some quarters that he was entitled to claim the goal, but in fact it was Cirencester's Adam Connolly who headed the ball into the net.
Early in the second half Jamie Barron had a shot saved by Cirencester goalkeeper Mateusz Wieczorek and he also tested the goalkeeper with a lob. Danny King also shot over as with the wind advantage Winchester looked solid at the back and the wind advantage this half. They took offOli Bailey who had run himself into the ground and replaced him with Tyrell Mitford. Five minutes after coming on Wieczorek could only parry a Simba Mlambo header into the path of Mitford who headed home from close range.
IK Hill and Brett Cunningham came on as substitutes, but they conceded a goal with 11 minutes remaining when Antonio Gerrish following up after Ryan Pryce saved a shot that he could not hold on to.
In the final minute of normal time Graham Williams fouled Ben Whitehead and the league's leading scorer converted the penalty himself. With three minutes of added on time as well this caused a bit of nail biting amongst the Winchester faithful and the home team won a few throw ins for which they were mainly concerned with keeping the ball as they held on to the lead.
It was a victory that Winchester clearly deserved, as they gave a good account of themselves, but if Cirencester had played with same intensity at the start as they did in the final 10 minutes it could have been a different game.
On Saturday Winchester are away to Highworth who are another club enjoying a good run of form.