Winchester City 3-0 Wantage Town
Winchester City 3 Wantage Town 0
WINCHESTER City kept themselves in with a shout of a Southern One South & West play-off push with a 3-0 home win over Wantage Town.
But victory was not quite as straightforward as the scoreline suggests with the Citizens reliant on second-half goals from Craig Feeney (2) and Stuart Green to see off their gutsy rock-bottom visitors.
Considering their lowly league position Wantage were commendably competitive while City’s play was all a bit frantic in the opening stages.
Even so Winchester had a couple of early half-chances with visiting keeper Eddie Cavanagh doing well to cut out Stuart Green’s cross with Joe Briggs lurking and Taz Roberts bursting through a tangle inside the area and having his shot blocked by the Alfredians' No1.
Wantage posed their first threat on 15 minutes when it took some typically tenacious defending by Adam Tomasso to dispossess Jack Powell after he had been played in by the lively Mark Francis.
City goalkeeper Brendan Norris was then required to gather a bobbling Dan Sadler shot on his goal-line before, at the other end, Jamie Ford’s low strike from a City corner drew another solid block from Cavanagh.
After a frustrating opening half-hour for Winchester, they were grateful to Canadian keeper Norris for coming sharply off his line to save at the feet of Powell as he raced on to a defence-splitting through ball.
As half-time approached, Winchester shifted up through the gears but, yet again, Cavanagh came to Wantage’s rescue, successfully taming Roberts’ thumping strike from wide left before closing the door on City's top scorer Craig Feeney.
Feeney was then involved in a controversial incident just before the break when he flung an arm behind him to fend off the attentions of big defender Joe Wood.
Wood required treatment and there were claims of an elbow from the Wantage bench but, after consulting his linesman, referee James Durkin took no action.
Half-time: Winchester City 0 Wantage 0.
If the first half lacked quality, top gun Feeney remedied that just four minutes after the restart with a truly stunning goal.
Green delivered from the left and FEENEY met it, back to the near-post, and squeezed an audacious overhead kick under the bar for 1-0.
Feeney then turned provider, setting Green off on a run at goal, but the midfielder got his finish all wrong.
Then, just as City were building up a head of steam, Tomasso was caught by a poor challenge from Powell – who went into the book – and, after lengthy treatment, was replaced by Robbie Matthews.
With the game getting tetchy, Roberts and Olly Searle were yellow-carded for Winchester, but, in between times, they were able to double their lead on the hour.
Briggs was the provider with a cross from the right and GREEN deftly finished from close range.
To their credit, Wantage kept fighting and created a fair few openings without ever testing Norris in the home goal.
And, somewhat harshly for the visitors, they were hit by a third Winchester goal on 73 minutes.
Green sought out FEENEY with a quickly taken free-kick and the razor-sharp No 9 bypassed the keeper and coolly rolled the ball into the far bottom corner for his 31st goal of the season.
The Citizens could have had another on 80 minutes but Briggs’ delicately weighted, curling shot came down off the angle of bar and post and somehow failed to cross the line.
The former Petersfield wide man then tried his luck from distance, but the ball whizzed narrowly over.
Winchester City: Brendan Norris, Adam Tomasso (Robbie Matthews, 59), Danny King, Jamie Barron, Olly Searle (Matt Evans, 65), Jamie Ford, Joe Briggs, Danny Smith, Craig Feeney, Stuart Green, Adam Roberts (Jason Silver, 75). Subs (not used): IK Hill, Jack Hannan.
Referee: James Durkin.