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Pitching In Southern League

Division 1 South

 

Play-Off Semi Final

 

Cirencester Town  1 - 4  Winchester City

 

Click each photo to view a slideshow from the match

Match photos supplied by

Graham Hill (left) and Becky Handley (right)

 

Match report by Dave Pyzer

 

For the second time this season The Citizens of Winchester City returned to The Corinium Stadium, but this time a place in the Play-Off Final that could lead to promotion to the Premier Division beckoned, and after a thrilling encounter it was the visitors that deservedly reached the final with three ‘Extra-Time’ goals.

 

In addition to the normal rivalry that exists between the two Clubs and what was at stake there was also the intriguing prospect of seeing the most prolific attacking force in the Division (Winchester - 93 goals scored) against the meanest defence in the Division (Cirencester - 29 goals conceded).

 

Cirencester Town Manager John Brough made three changes from the side that started against Paulton Rovers on Saturday as Tommy Anderson, Levi Irving and Joe Shepherd replaced Aidan Bennett, Mike Pook and Jake Mawford.

 

On a perfect evening for football the two sides locked horns from the kick-off as Cirencester pressed and Winchester quickly countered and within the first ten minutes Craig Feeney fired wide of the left post under pressure from Tom Handley and Joe Shepherd headed an Ellis Dunton cross wide of the right post.

A positive start to the game from both sides and it continued in that fashion throughout.

As the mid-point of the first half approached Ben Whitehead received the ball on the right flank and as he cut inside he sent it across the pitch to Handley who unleashed a fierce right footed shot from 35 yards that was narrowly wide of the left post.

A couple of minutes later Handley headed a Jake Lee free kick across the face of the goal from the left by-line and Whitehead just failed to make contact with it at the far-right post.

Winchester replied with a firm low strike from Jamie Barron that Alex Harris parried and Lee cleared but this was soon followed by a couple of corner kicks – the second of which, from the right, was headed over the bar by Callum Chugg at the back post. 

By this stage both sides were going for it – Cirencester probing and launching balls to their flanks whilst Winchester were harassing and countering quickly – and this was producing an ‘end-to-end’ match played at an incredible pace.

As the game neared the final five minutes of the first half Winchester launched the ball to the right corner where Josh McCormick collected and ran along the by-line before crossing – blocked by Josh Nelmes for a corner kick that was headed away by Joe Turley for a throw-in that Dunton headed out for Levi Irving to clear. 

A couple of minutes later Whitehead worked his way along the front edge of the Winchester box, from right to left, before driving a low shot towards the right post where ‘keeper Charlie Philpott dived to save. 

Almost immediately a Cirencester free kick taken by Handley, from the right flank - halfway, reached Dunton at the far-left post and his header was partially cleared to Lee who sent it back to Dunton who headed wide of the left post. 

On the stroke of half-time McCormick overlapped to the right corner to supply Oliver Balmer resulting in a blocked shot and corner kick that the home side defended. 

Half Time:   0-0

In the opening minute of the second period Handley sent a free kick towards the top right corner but Philpott managed to push it wide to be cleared downfield.

A few minutes later Patrick Nolan lobbed the ball to the left channel of the home box where Oliver Balmer struck a fierce volley that Harris did well to block at his right post. Simba Mlambo tucked the rebound into the net but was adjudged to be ‘offside’. 

The Cirencester response was a weaving 30-yard run down the left flank, from inside his own half, by Handley but when he slipped the ball left towards Irving the wingman was given ‘offside’. 

Almost immediately Tommy Anderson made a strong run down the right flank and released Shayne Anson to the corner to send a low cross through the Winchester 6-yard box where Whitehead just failed to make contact at the near post as he darted forward.

As the home side worked the ball down their left flank it was lost for another quick counter attack that enabled Barron to reach the front edge of the Cirencester box – drawing the defence towards him he slipped the ball to his right for CRAIG FEENEY to open the scoring. 

Around the hour-mark Cirencester produced a neat move involving Whitehead, Anderson and Anson who slipped the ball inside to Shepherd, right channel 25 yards out, and his strike passed just over the top left corner of the Winchester goal. 

A minute later Barron embarked on a run down the centre and as he approached the home box he fired just wide of the left post. 

At the mid-point of the half Cirencester were pressing as Irving headed a corner kick wide at the near post and then a cross from the left flank ended with an aerial duel at the far-post that resulted in Philpott needing treatment.

Shortly afterwards Winchester worked the ball down their right flank for Mlambo to cross from the corner – Anson cleared the initial cross but it was collected by Max Smith and slipped left to an overlapping Daniel King who crossed from the by-line resulting in a corner kick. Alex Harris pushed the kick away from his goal but it eventually led to another corner kick that sailed out of play at the back post. 

Winchester tried again as Oliver Bailey reached the left by-line to supply Smith, left channel front edge of the home box, who fired wide of the left post. 

As Cirencester worked the ball forward they were awarded a free kick, right channel – 40 yards out, that Handley delivered into the mix at the Penalty Spot where it was partially cleared and the follow-up shot from Lee parried by Philpott for the rebound to be tucked into the net by JOSH PARSONS from close range. 

During the final scheduled 15 minutes both sides pressed as Chugg headed over the bar and Philpott saved at the feet of Whitehead after Nick Peare and Parsons combined to create an opening. 

Leading up to the interval Philpott parried an effort from Parsons and survived a couple of late corner kicks. 

Full Time:   1-1 

The first period of Extra Time started as the previous period had ended – ‘end to end’. 

Within minutes of the re-start Bailey fired wide, after an overlapping run from Josh McCormick, and Winchester cleared a Dunton header from their goal-line.

Mid-way through this period McCormick charged into the home box but a well-timed tackle from Lee prevented further progress and the resulting corner kick was also defended and cleared leading to a corner kick at the other end. 

Nearing the interval Winchester regained the lead after a Parsons shot was blocked and cleared for a quick counter attack down their right flank that supplied OLLIE GRIGGS who converted from the right channel of the home Penalty Area. 

Extra Time First Half:   1-2 

It was ‘all-or-nothing’ for Cirencester in the second period of extra time and after some neat build-up play involving Turley, Peare and Irving resulted in a corner kick the visitors launched the ball into space down their right flank for Henry Brooks to chase, collect and charge forward to the edge of the home box where his firm strike was parried by Harris but collected by MAX SMITH who tucked it into the back of the net.

Buoyed by their success Winchester pressed again to ‘win’ a corner kick that led to a cross that Harris pushed out and Mlambo shot past the left post.

A few minutes later after another shot had been blocked the ball was recycled back to MAX SMITH on the right channel front edge of the home box and he struck a sensational shot into the top left corner to seal the result.

Extra Time Second Half:   1-4

 

During the first period in particular the ball spent far too much time in the air, due in part to the harassing of the visitors, and as the game developed into an end-to-end affair Winchester’s quick forward breaks and neat finishing (that befits a team that scored the most goals during the league campaign) gave them the edge.

The pace of the game for the entire match was exceptional and a credit to the fitness levels of all the players involved.

 

Attendance:     393                                                      Referee:   Jake Allsopp

 

Cirencester Town:

 1.         Alex Harris
 2.        Shayne Anson
 3.        Tom Handley
 4.        Joe Turley
 5.        Jake Lee     ©
 6.        Ellis Dunton
 7.        Tommy Anderson
 8.        Josh Nelmes
 9.        Levi Irving       
10.       Ben Whitehead
11.       Joe Shepherd                                     

12.        Aidan Bennett                          (Ben Whitehead-106mins)
14.        Jake Mawford                                                 
15.        Josh Parsons                            (Joe Shepherd-63mins)  76
16.        Michael Pook
18.        Nick Peare                                (Josh Nelmes-76mins)

 

Winchester City:

 1.        Charlie Philpott
 2.        Joshua McCormick
 3.        Daniel King
 4.        Ollie Griggs                                          103
 5.        Callum Chugg
 6.        Patrick Nolan
 7.        Craig Feeney                                        59
 8.        Jamie Barron     ©
 9.        Warren Bentley 
10.        Oliver Balmer
11.        Simbarashe Mlambo

12.        Oliver Bailey                            (Craig Feeney-64mins) 
14.        Daniel Walster
15.        Henry Brooks                           (Oliver Balmer-100mins)
16.        Max Smith                               (Warren Bentley-70mins)  109, 114
17.        Joe Hayward    

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