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Defeat but no cause for alarm for Whitchurch
Christchurch 3 Whitchurch Utd 1.
Two clinical finishes from evergreen striker Gareth Barnes were the catalyst for Whitchurch’s opening league game defeat at Christchurch on Wednesday.
It was tough on the Jam Boys who more than matched the home side for an hour and could easily have been well ahead at the break had they taken some of the chances created and had more luck in key areas.
The new front pairing of Shane Lock and Luke Walker looked very potent early on and Walker clipped the bar with a dipping effort but within minutes they were behind when Barnes finished off a slide rule pass from Mark Smith.
Walker twice missed after great work from Isaac Sedu but when the same man worked his magic along the byline his cross was tucked away for the equaliser by Lock on 19 minutes.
Whitchurch were looking the most likely and after a rare shot from James Burden was saved the move of the match saw Lock sling in a low cross for Walker to skillfully divert past Max Frampton only to be denied by the linesman’s flag for offside.
That decision ultimately proved to be the turning point as despite Pa Touray and Sedu combining to unlock the home defence near the break and only being denied by Connor Doe they could not turn their superiority into goals.
From the restart James Tennant had a shot deflected wide and the busy Alex Dockree and Sedu were still causing problems for Christchurch but Whitchurch began to lose the midfield areas and it was no great surprise when Doe’s cross found substitute Mark Fairbrother who nodded home from close range on the hour.
Christchurch were stretching the visiting defence and with a few legs showing the signs of having played twice the Jam Boys were fortunate to stay in touch when Sam Purdy was clear on goal but scuffed his shot.
The reprieve was sadly short lived as on 77 minutes Purdy again escaped down the right and when his cross was half cleared Barnes hammered it home from the edge of the area to clinch the points.
Boss Jim Macey was far from despondent after the game: “I think we were unlucky. We had the chances in the first half and then after the break we could have had a couple but for an hour we were probably the best team so I am happy enough.”
Team: Dean Mahoney, Alex Pickering, Tom Pemberton, Pa Touray, Adam Pearson, Alex Dockree, Curtis Angell, Isaac Sedu, Shane Lock, Luke Walker, James Tennant. Subs used: Ashley Ledger, Tom Adams, Chris Smalley.