Winchester City 1 Hayes and Yeading 1

Winchester's final home match of 2023 saw them draw 1-1 with Hayes and Yeading. 

Remarkably for a team that had won eight league games and were in the top half of the table this represented Winchester's first league points in a Saturday fixture this season.

Hayes and Yeading went to this match just below Winchester City in the table and are managed by Mark Molesley who previously managed Weymouth, Southend, Aldershot and Gosport Borough.  Winchester though were seeking their third successive victory against their opponents having beaten them 3-1 away from home earlier in the campaign and also beaten them in the corresponding match of last season. Hayes and Yeading are a former National League club which was formed in 2007 as a merger of Hayes and Yeading football clubs.

Winchester announced an unchanged starting line-up from the previous Saturday with even the substitutes unchanged.  Early on Jacob Adams in the visitor's goal made an excellent save from Ollie Balmer at the expense of a corner.  Winchester were having more possession, but the next shot of note came in the 25th minute when  Adams tipped over an effort from Tommy Wright.  Hayes and Yeading reaped the benefits of their goalkeeper's two good saves when against the run of play they took the lead in the 27th minute when Ronan Silva found himself in space and slotted home.  

For Winchester, Trevor Caborn headed just over, but for the remainder of the first half Winchester continued to have more of the game, but Hayes and Yeading had pace up front and at times looked dangerous on the break.

At half-time Winchester bought on Devon Arnold and Warren Bentley for Max Smith and Trevor Caborn.  However, although Winchester continued to press it was Hayes and Yeading who came closest to scoring the game's next goal with Norman Wabo heading just wide and Winchester goalkeeper  Luke Cairney just clearing the ball in the nick of time on a couple of occasions to break up a visitors attack.

Winchester made their third and final substitution with just over a quarter of an hour remaining with Simba Mlambo replacing Ollie Balmer and Winchester began to create more chances as they began to realise time was running out. Warren Bentley was only just off target when if he had scored he would have delighted the contingent of Winchester fans who were dressed up in Santa outfits with Bentley's name featuring prominently in their rendition of Christmas songs.  One cross needed just a decisive touch as Winchester were playing with increased incisiveness, although the visitors were not completely out of the game as an attacking force.

Right at the start of nine minutes added on time, Winchester drew level when Sinba Mlambo placed his shot well from just inside the area,  If anything Winchester looked the more likely team to score in the remaining minutes of added on time, but in the end, match finished all square.  

Happy Christmas to everyone.  After playing away to Salisbury on Boxing Day, Winchester are at home to Gosport Borough on New Years Day.