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Whitchurch close the gap on league leaders
10:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Football
AN INSPIRED substitution minutes into the second-half transformed Whitchurch United’s match with visiting Fleet Spurs as they won 2-1.
The victory put them second in the Wessex League Division One, just a point behind leaders Cowes Sports.
Paul Coventry turned the match as he latched on to a through-ball to beat Ryan Bone with almost his first touch just before the hour – then found Luke Walker with a defence-splitting pass with 10 minutes left, the skilful striker doing the rest to give United the three points.
“We got away with that to be honest,” was boss Jim Macey’s blunt assessment of the game afterwards. “We didn’t take our chances but I told them that at half-time if we scored we would go on and win it and we did just that.”
Few could have seen that outcome after a first-half where the Spurs took up where they left off a week earlier, when they brushed aside Stockbridge with two goals from huge striker Sam Knowles.
The same man almost gave his side the lead from the kick-off only for a last gasp block from Alex Pickering and then Fleet’s Dave Richards had a goal disallowed for pushing.
Isaac Sedu had a shot saved before the visitors took the lead from a Chris Musgrove header.
’Church’s Sam Argent twice went close and Ashley Childs also tested Bone before the break.
Walker volleyed over from close range soon after the restart and then a superb flowing move down the right ended with Walker again shooting wide, but once Coventry was given a centre forward roving role the game changed.
His clinical finish under Bone gave his side the edge and, alongside fellow subs Nick Jupp and Pa Touray, who burst into life in the second-half, the win was always on the cards.
To their credit Spurs had arrived to play football and they could have regained the lead with 15 minutes left, when goalkeeper Tom Hindmarsh was forced to bring down Thomas Chillery and the resulting free-kick from Knowles hit the bar.
It was the break Whitchurch were looking for as moments later Coventry’s precision pass found Walker, who walked around Bone and rolled in the winner.
With Stockbridge due at Longmeadow on Saturday, Whitchurch could go top of the table.
“We have given ourselves a real chance now but Stockbridge and everyone else will want to beat us and we have got to be right on our game,” said Macey, who gambled in leaving out Nick Jupp for Jordan Seward and put Ashley Childs on from the start.
“I gambled on Ashley as he was carrying a knock and it was hard to tell Nick (Jupp) that he was on the bench but Jordan was outstanding again.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s game Macey said: “We will have Ali Brown back and we will need to play better than that.”