Winchester City 3 Paulton Rovers 2
JOE Briggs set up the equaliser and plundered the winner for Winchester City as they came back from behind to beat ten-man Paulton Rovers 3-2 in the Southern One South & West this afternoon.
City included on-loan Poole Town right-back Lewis Tallack for his first league start, while Brendan Norris - back from loan at Fleet Town - got the nod over Lewis Noice in goal.
The opening three minutes were mainly played in Winchester’s half, but the moment the Citizens strung a decent move together they so nearly scored – Howard Neighbour showing good strength to tee himself up for a shot which clipped the outside of the post.
Another chance presented itself on 14 minutes when Paulton’s Elliott Gibbons was penalised for handball, but Stuart Mott’s header from Joe Briggs’ free kick was well wide.
Just when City looked to be exerting a measure of authority, they found themselves a goal down after being prised open on the break with 15 minutes gone - albeit that City were convinced there was more than a hint of offside.
One simple ball picked out Reeko BEST on the left and the speedy No11 powered away from his marker before coolly slotting the ball past Canadian keeper Norris.
Another free-kick came City’s way on 25 minutes for a foul on Adam Tomasso but Paulton keeper Kieran Hodges dealt well with Andy Jenkinson’s curler.
Jenkinson it was who made the telling delivery for Winchester’s 26th- minute equaliser, picking out Craig FEENEY who held off his marker before calmly tucking away his 18th league and cup goal of the season.
Feeney could have had another as he darted in from the left on 33 minutes, but he overran it slightly and the keeper saved.
With the rain lashing down Norris was penalised for handball outside the area on 36 minutes. Jake Mawford’s free-kick was well struck and on target but Norris got two strong hands to it and pushed it over.
Paulton threatened again on 45 minutes when great work by pint-sized left-back Kailan Gould set Best on his way again. But, in rounding the keeper, Best pushed the ball fractionally too far ahead of him and, having resisted the temptation to lunge in on his man, City defender Mott was able to clear.
The visitors were reduced to ten men in first-half stoppage time when Jordan Ricketts needlessly went in two-footed on Tomasso and the referee had no hesitation in showing him a straight red card.
Half-time: Winchester City 1 Paulton Rovers 1
As City set about trying to make their man advantage tell at the start of the second-half, both Stuart Green and Neighbour passed up decent chances on a difficult, greasy surface.
Instead, it was ten-man Paulton who scored against the run of play with an hour gone.
New boy Tallack could count himself desperately unlucky to be pulled up for a foul on MAWFORD and it was the Paulton No 9 who beat Norris from the spot.
It looked like being one of those afternoons for City when Feeney’s next attempt cleared the bar, but persistence paid off on 65 minutes when they bagged themselves an equaliser.
Briggs’ delivery from the left was cleverly flicked in at the near post by his former Petersfield team-mate NEIGHBOUR for 2-2.
Tomasso’s left-foot screamer was expertly turned away by Hodges as City went all out for a winner and then somehow Feeney’s close-range effort, set-up by Green, crashed down off the underside of the bar.
Hodges then smothered a deflected shot from sub Taz Roberts on the line before Green met Feeney’s delivery with a first-time volley that flew wide.
Winchester kept banging on the door and finally battered it down on 84 minutes when the excellent Green kept the ball in on the left byline and crossed for BRIGGS to slide home at the far post for 3-2.
The undermanned visitors didn’t make it easy for City and themselves had chances in the closing stages with towering defender and skipper Josh Ford having one header cleared off the line and another well held by Norris in super slippery conditions.
City - home again to Yate Town on Wednesday (7.45pm) - are up to 14th.