Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Winchester City 5 v 1 Alresford Town

Monday 6th April 2015
City Ground, Winchester
Wessex League Premier Division
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 306
Match Rating: 4

For this bank holiday, Easter Monday, I unusually decided against a double header, mainly avoiding revisits or a long distance trip with a very early start, to instead visit a new ground for me, for an attractive looking local derby in the Wessex League.

The City Ground is about a 20 minute walk north eastwards from Winchester train station, and much recent hard work has gone into making this a very smart looking ground, generally easy on the eye with some good facilities. One enters through a turnstile block behind one of the goals, and a quite attractively designed clubhouse set some way back from the pitch and towards one corner. Moving along the length, two buildings that rather spoil the smart appearance of the ground, a portakabin housing the tea bar and a static caravan housing the club shop before one reaches a modern metallic all-seater stand straddling the half way line. Immediately opposite is a smaller stand covering a flat area, and immediately behind one of the goals is a small bus stop shelter type stand covering a couple of metallic steps. Around the rest of the ground is just generally spacious hard standing and hard wooden panel fencing forms the border around most of the ground. The programme was a disappointment, 8 black and white pages inside a stiffened colour but pixilated cover, and lacked a welcome message but did include a couple of match reports, season results league table and expected line-ups.

Winchester have had a good season, coming into this game in second place in the table, which probably is as good as it will get for them, being seven points behind leaders Petersfield Town, but six points ahead of third placed Moneyfields, all with four games left to play. They have 77 points from 36 games. After Alresford Town finished as runners up in the last two seasons, budget constraints - which included losing their manager and 53 goal top scorer to Winchester - this season has been more of a struggle, and they came into this game in 16th place in the 21 team division, with 35 points from 36 games. The two teams have already met twice this season, once in the league, once in the North Hants Cup, both at Alresford, both games finishing 2-4.

On a surprisingly warm and sunny afternoon, the first half was mainly even, Winchester always looking the stronger side but Alresford were a match and looked quite dangerous on their occasional breaks. However, Winchester were awarded a penalty for a mistimed lunging tackle in the area on Charlie Smeeton. Warren Bentley placed the penalty into the bottom right corner despite the keeper diving the right way. In first half stoppage time, Winchester doubled their lead when Bentley connected with a low cross from the left, firing the ball into the bottom right corner.

One felt that that second goal could well proved decisive, and so it proved, as the home side went on to dominate the second half. On 55 minutes, after Bentley was denied a hat-trick by a great reflex save from the keeper, from the resultant corner, Winchester scored their third, Luke Dempsey getting on the end of an inswinging corner to head the ball in from close range. A rare second half attack saw Alresford pull a goal back on 75 minutes, all down to Andy Turner who sprinted down the right wing before eventually slotting the ball low across the keeper and into the net. Winchester restored their three goal lead on 82 minutes when Bentley completed his hat-trick, who showed good footwork in evading a defender and dribbling across the area to a central position before placing the ball into the net. Winchester made it five two minutes later when a lovely jinking run forward ended in a pass to Liam Robinson, and his first touch after coming on as sub was to place the ball into the net. 5-1 was how it finished, perhaps slightly harsh on the visitors, but did indicate the superior guile and class that Winchester possessed throughout.

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