Game 13: Winchester Castle 4.3 Liphook United (Hampshire Premier) 20.01.18
The majority of the Hampshire League games were postponed due to waterlogged pitches today with only three games surviving. This game was confirmed as on when I checked on Twitter at lunchtime and I had enough time to drive over to the Hampshire County Council Sports Ground for the 2pm kickoff. The ground is on the outskirts of Winchester up a narrow lane. I was concerned that the rain was still falling heavily but when I arrived the gate was open and I could see the teams warming up in the rain as I parked up.
There are three pitches at the Sports Ground with the far railed off pitch used by Winchester Castle. This pitch has dugouts and a small covered stand. I had my large umbrella with me so decided to watch the game by the rails. The rain was fairly constant throughout the game but did ease off at times.
Liphook had a great start to the game, scoring with a great shot from the edge of the area in the second minute. They doubled their lead after five minutes from a corner – the ball was headed into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance. They came close to adding to their lead after ten minutes when they hit the bar before seeing the home keeper make a great diving save. After 20 minutes a Liphook corner was headed onto the post by a defender and to his relief the ball bounced out and was cleared. Winchester scored moments later – the Liphook keeper came off his line and couldn’t get back to stop a long range chip shot from going in.
On the half hour the scores were level. A long ball found the same Winchester player and he shrugged off the covering defender before chipping over the onrushing keeper. I hadn’t expected this after Liphook’s early dominance. Liphook had a penalty shout turned down and then saw one given when a shot from the edge of the area came off a defender’s arm. The referee deemed that the player had moved his arm towards the ball. The shot was struck to the keeper’s right but he guessed right and saved it. Liphook won a corner and saw a header go in to the net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.Just before half time Winchester Castle took the lead. A defender went to clear the ball and slipped in the mud, allowing a Winchester player to run in, control the ball and chip it over the keeper for his hat trick.
The second half continued in the same vein of attacking football although there were only two more goals. Winchester Castle scored at the start of the half when a shot hit the keeper and the ball looped up in the air and in. Liphook were awarded another penalty ten minutes later and despite the keeper diving the right way the ball evaded him on this occasion for a Liphook ball. Both teams had chances for a goal but Liphook were unable to take advantage of a late sending off to equalise. Winchester Castle were content at the end to play the ball to the corners to waste time. An exciting game on a very muddy pitch.