Southern League Division One South & West
Winchester City 1
Yate Town 0
The Denplan City Ground
A midweek game has been typical this season for me and this week was no different, having missed out on a Tuesday night game due to a work Christmas meal, I was keen to head over to the Denplan Stadium for my second visit.
My one previous visit to Winchester City FC was last season (January 2016) and they were on the wrong end of a 5-1 score against Didcot Town.
For the level Winchester play at and the fact that they are a team representing a city, you would expect a little more from the Denplan Stadium.
The ground has one seated stand set back away from the pitch, which covers about a third of the length of the pitch. The majority of the ground is uncovered standing however there is a small covered terrace opposite the seated area and a small covered area behind one goal that could probably house about five fans.
There is a little clubhouse up the corner of the ground and where the players entered the pitch.
There is a well equipped tea hut and a cool little club shop that has an array of old programmes from various clubs and is an Aladdin’s cave of football memorabilia.
For this game, and in fact the last time I was there also I chose to stand just to the right of the seated stand at pitch level, luckily for me it wasn’t raining. The game was not for the faint hearted but worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
Howard Neighbour scored late on to give Winchester City all three points with a 1-0 victory over Yate Town.
Yate were dealt an early blow when ‘keeper Harvey Rivers picked up an injury in the first half, and with no recognised goalkeeper on the bench, striker Luke Bryon pulled on the gloves.
The Bluebells put in a resilient performance against City but Neighbour put the ball in the back of the net with minutes left on the clock.
Ian Saunders’ City were on top from the beginning but they needed some shooting practice with the parked cars in more danger than Rivers’ goal.
Stuart Mott had the first real chance of the game when he headed over the crossbar from Andrew Jenkinson’s cross.
Neighbour and Stuart Green combined well before playing in Craig Feeney who had his shot blocked by Trey Anderson. Moments later Green curled one inches high of the bar as the Citizens went searching for an opener.
The home side must have thought they would have taken the lead when Yate defensive duo Anderson and Charlie Hitchens both missed the ball, allowing Feeney a free run on goal. With just the ‘keeper to beat, the striker shot wide, clattering Rivers in the process. With both players receiving treatment, Rivers looked in some serious discomfort and was replaced minutes later after going down again.
Striker Luke Bryon pulled on the goalkeeper jersey and Camen Harvey was introduced from the bench with only 30 minutes on the clock.
With a striker in goal, Winchester should have been firing in shots from anywhere and Feeney could have done better when he glanced a near post header over the bar from Green’s delivery.
Winchester’s shooting didn’t get much better in the second half either, and Yate had produced nothing in attack so a goalless draw looked likely.
Saunders introduced tricky winger Joe Briggs to the game when he replaced Adam Roberts with 30 minutes left to play.
Lewis Tallack was replaced by Jamie Ford but nothing was happening in front of goal with a bit of luck needed for either side to break the deadlock.
The goal did come with 12 minutes left on the clock when Howard Neighbour tapped the ball over the line after a goal mouth scramble. The Citizens had a clear shout for a penalty when a Yate defender looked to have blocked a shot with his hand, however with the referee failing to give the spot kick, Winchester continued to scrap for the ball before it fell to Neighbour to poke in the winner.
In the final moments, City forced a good save from Bryon as he blocked Feeney’s shot with his foot at the near post. Bryon later spilled Neighbour’s effort but the offside flag went up when his teammates went in for the rebound.
2016/17 Games: 68
2016/17 Grounds: 50
Total Grounds Visited: 142 (37)