Aldershot & Farnham 2, Winchester II 1

UNDETERRED by the heartache of their last-minute opening weekend defeat a week earlier, Aldershot & Farnham triumphed over Winchester seconds in a close and entertaining encounter at Heath End last Saturday.

The home side made a sprightly start, with Rob Jervis threatening on the right to get in behind the Winchester defence on a number of occasions.

Aldershot & Farnham created the better chances from open play in the first half.

Ian Metcalfe had a couple of efforts saved while Luke Powell sliced a shot from the top of the ‘D’ wide of the right-hand post, but the best chance of the half fell to Jonny Groves who, with time and space, hooked an effort wide of the left upright from eight yards out.

Winchester were limited to a few optimistic reverse-stick efforts under pressure from the A&F defence and they came closest with a drag-flick short corner that rattled the crossbar.

And it was Winchester who took the lead, capitalizing on an Aldershot & Farnham first phase turnover to move from the left and finish from close range.

Shortly after, following some good work from Phil Rushmere on the left, Aaron Buchanan popped a ball into Ian Metcalfe in the circle who spun to create a clear shot for himself but could only drill it straight at the Winchester goalkeeper. The home side were beginning to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.

The equaliser did, however, come as Jervis and South African debutant Dean Harrison combined on the right. With the umpire playing advantage after Jervis was wiped out, Harrison unleashed a bullet strike from the top right of the circle into the far corner.

Home captain Ed Rushmere was then given 10 minutes in the sin bin for a rash lunge, but despite playing with just 10 men, Aldershot & Farnham managed to create openings only for the final ball to let them down.

They also had to defend resolutely to Winchester attacks at the other end and Hamish Hall put in a man-of-the-match performance by pulling off a string of saves in the A&F goal, the pick of which was an outstanding effort to get his left leg across to an effort destined for the bottom left corner.

Following a sliding tackle by the Winchester left back in the circle and a long consultation between the umpires, a five-minute yellow card was shown and Aldershot & Farnham were awarded a penalty stroke. Groves stepped up and managed to score, although his effort was far from convincing.

Aldershot & Farnham had to absorb a lot of pressure in the final 10 minutes, with the whole team working hard to deny Winchester, a task made even harder when young centre midfielder Johhnny Thompson was sent off for an aggressive tackle from behind.

Aldershot & Farnham: Hall, Hammond, Weston, Morris, E Rushmere, Jervis, Thompson, P Rushmere, Metcalfe, Groves, Harrison, Whelan, Buchanan, Powell.