Bristol Manor Farm suffered play-off heartbreak as they were beaten by a very good Winchester City side, writes Jack Davies.
The two sides both overcame difficult away semi-finals but it was the hosts who settled the earliest. Feeney almost created a goal within 10 seconds as his pass found Ollie Balmer, whose shot was saved by John.
Their good start was rewarded after seven minutes. Balmer’s shot was somehow cleared off the line by Farm captain Aron Robbins but the ball deflected perfectly to Warren Bentley, who swept home the rebound.
The hosts kept coming as Farm were slow to settle, Simba Mlambo was played in but he was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by Steve Kingdon.
Farm picked up following that scare and had a few early chances themselves. Kye Simpson couldn’t quite sort his feet out as he reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box and then the forward was denied being played through by the sliding interception of McCormick.
Winchester would double their lead before the half-hour. Mlambo’s running led to Balmer’s saved effort and once again for the hosts, the ball dropped perfectly for the men in red. Craig Feeney lashing home at the far post.
Farm ended the first half strongly. Josh Ford was somehow booked despite him being dragged down in the box as Farm waited to take a free-kick before Jayden Neilsen’s clever flick fed Owen Howe, whose shot deflected just over.
A fired-up Farm settled much better to the second half. Mike Bryant linked well with Jake Gosling before the latter played the ball into Simpson. The striker just crowded out as he looked to find a yard in the area.
Despite Farm’s pressure, the hosts would all but ensure promotion on the hour. Balmer was again involved as he slipped the ball to Mlambo, who proved that everything seems to go your way on one of those days. He mishit his volley before watching the ball trickle over the line after it span onto the inside of John’s post.
Bristol Manor Farm would get a goal to celebrate late on. Top persistence by Simpson won him back possession in the Winchester area and unselfishly laid the ball to Gosling who buried his finish emphatically.
Farm pushed hard to get another back. Josh Ford volleyed wide under pressure, before his centre back partner Kingdon forced a smart save by home keeper Charlie Philpott.
Winchester would catch Farm on the counter in the final minute to add some gloss to their strong performance. Substitute Max Smith driving forward before finding the far corner.