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Non-league: Kemp's correct call as Christchurch compete with Winchester
CHRISTCHURCH 0 WINCHESTER CITY 2
IT WASN’T the first time Graham Kemp turned out to be right after raising a few eyebrows with his opinions ahead of a Christchurch fixture.
And while King Kempy reigned supreme at Hurn Bridge, his pre-match prediction that new club Winchester City would endure a tough time against his former charges proved to be spot on.
If they’re honest, even the most ardent of Priory punters would have feared the worst as City rocked up with some of the Wessex League’s leading lights, including four former Christchurch players.
And although the visitors attacked at will during a dominant first half display, Christchurch more than matched their efforts after the interval and should have snaffled a point following some wayward Winchester defending.
City set the early tempo, but it was the home side who should have taken the lead when veteran midfielder Mark Smith’s trademark delivery was spurned in front of goal by Dan Blackburn.
But Winchester soon turned the screw with familiar face Karl Yelland and ex-Bashley midfielder Liam Green snatching at efforts when well placed before towering talisman Leigh Mills thumped home a header from Green’s delicately dinked free kick.
However, fears the floodgates were about to open proved unfounded as brave performances from the likes of full back Connor Doe saw Christchurch gradually grow in stature.
Dan Saul missed a sitter on the hour, rolling his low shot wide after being threaded through by Smith, before Winchester’s Dan Thompson headed a goal-bound effort off the line.
All of the momentum was with Christchurch as uncharacteristic errors crept in the visitors’ play. “We’re asking for it here lads,” barked Kemp from the touchline.
And both benches thought the equaliser had arrived when Smith’s long-distance daisy cutter bounced a fraction wide with keeper Ross Casey stranded.
But the game was up when, with five minutes to play, some incisive play showed Priory’s youngsters how it was done.
Chris Mason and Ben Osborne combined to set up substitute Liam Robinson who plundered the decisive second and handed a relieved Kemp all three points on a tricky return to his old stomping ground.
Winchester’s boss told the Daily Echo: “We were dominant in the first half but off the pace in the second. I feel we probably deserved to win but it was much closer than I would have liked.
“I thought we had the lion’s share of the possession but they had their chances and should have scored at 1-0.
“We caught them with a sucker punch at the end but we didn’t play at all well in the second half and we’ll need to sort that out pretty quickly.”
Meanwhile, Christchurch chief Michael Cuffie was delighted despite his first defeat in charge of Priory.
He said: “How can I be disappointed after a performance like that? The lads should hold their heads up high because they played very well against a very good Winchester side.
“The way we played says a lot about us as far as I am concerned. It was a good game between two good sides and I thought we deserved something out of it.
“If you don’t take your chances then you don’t win football matches and that will be the lesson for the boys, but I’m glad we approached the game the way we did.
“I came off smiling and if we can play like that for the rest of the season then who knows where it will take us.”
Priory: Frampton, Doe, Bernard, Speers, Legg, Blackburn, Smith, Fairbrother (Hoey, 60), Saul, Purdy, Burden. Unused subs: McGrath, Walker, Frewin, Salazar.
Winchester: Casey, Thompson, Casson, Mills, Scott, Yelland, Price (Robinson, 70), Flood, Cook (Osborne, 70), Green (Sanderson, 82), Mason. Unused subs: Austen, Turpin.
Elsewhere in the Wessex Premier, Bournemouth Poppies lost 2-0 at Moneyfields following first half goals from Stephen Hutchings and Bobby Scott.
Poppies: Lillington, Ayrton, Jackson, Clarke, Bartlett, Saadi (Andrews, 27), Crow, Corby, Warren (Batchelor, 75), Burgis, Phillips (Cooper, 75). Unused subs: Pearce, Turner.
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