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Trojans take big step towards South League title
7:00am Wednesday 13th March 2013 in Sport
Trojans are hot favourites to become South League Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 2 champions after beating Winchester 2-1 in their potential title decider at Kings’.
The Stoneham side produced a disciplined performance, nullifying Winchester’s enormous goalscoring threat and deserved the spoils.
But Trojans’ man-of-the-match Ian Bassett dismisses any claims they are home and dry in the title race.
“That result puts us three points clear at the top with four matches left, but realistically we’ve got to win them all,” he warned.
“Winchester’s plus-22 goal difference advantage is worth a point, so we just can’t afford to slip up.”
Trojans had been far from convincing in their build up to the derby, celebrating three undistinguished odd-goal victories in four.
But they certainly rose to the occasion in front of a decent-sized Kings’ crowd.
They started the stronger, but their pressure resulted in relatively little success, the ball often running off the end of the pitch as they struggled to adjust to a pitch very different to their own.
Both sides had early opportunities from narrow angles, but could not produce the fine directional control.
The tone of the game was beginning to emerge which was a more cultured approach from the visitors against a robust and fully committed Winchester midfield.
Twenty minutes in and Ally Birch made the first of a number of excellent saves that would ultimately make him the far busier of the two keepers.
Winchester’s first penalty corner was well saved by Steve Cole with Jon Saltmarsh blasting rebound just wide.
Five minutes later, Birch was cruelly exposed as Trojans worked some space in the ‘D’ , but he was able to not only save well, but clear the danger.
However, even Birch could do little about Trojans’ opening goal from their first corner – teenager Ed Jeffery drilling a low drag flick through the left hand post man.
“Ali’s a tall keeper and pretty agile, so I ensured I hit the ball low down where he wouldn’t be able to get to it,” explained the Peter Symonds’ College student.
Just short of half time, Andy Winnett made a run around the back of the Trojans defence but the shot from Rob Craddock was just wide.
Winchester were unable to capitalise on their good finish to the first half and the second period continued with Trojans in the ascendancy.
Saltmarsh was again at the centre of the action, pulling the ball back from the by-line to give Winnett a snap chance.
He also had the ball in the back of the net, but an offence was rightly spotted in the build-up.
His endeavours did finally bear fruit when Ed Ellis, playing strongly in an unaccustomed deep-lying midfield role, fired the ball into the D and Saltmarsh’s touch saw the ball loop freakishly over Cole to equalise.
Trojans finished strongly and, having had a goal ruled out, grabbed the winner after Stuart Swift had been yellow carded for a clumsy challenge outside the D.
The resulting set piece culminating in an elated James Watts poking the ball past Birch, his former schoolteacher, to give Trojans victory.
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