Wimborne’s seven-game unbeaten run came to a disappointing end on their first-ever visit to Hartley Wintney. The visitors had no answer to the hosts’ high tempo tactics and ended a well-beaten side.
Manager Matty Holmes restored Gerard Benfield between the posts, and recent-signing Ashley Pope took the place of Curtis Young on the bench.
The Row’s fast-paced, in-your-face tactics were obvious from the first whistle, and gave The Magpies’ creative players little time to settle on the ball.
Benfield made a low sprawling save on 8 minutes, but 5 minutes later he was beaten. A cross was half-cleared, and Michael Campbell rifled home from 10 yards.
The hosts hustling and harrying forced hurried and mis-placed passes, and The Row took every opportunity to turn defence into rapid attacks.
Wimborne’s first threatening attack came on 25 minutes. After a series of one-touch passes, Toby Holmes raced onto Luke Burbidge’s dinked through ball forcing young keeper Adam Desbois to make the first of several excellent saves.
However, most of the play was towards the other goal. On 32 minutes Steven Duff slalomed through mid-field before unleashing a cracking shot from the edge of the box to double the lead. And Benfield had to be at his best to deny Mitchell Parker a third.
Wimborne started the second-half better, and Luke Holmes’ goal-bound shot was well-saved by Desbois. But any aspirations the visitors had of a come-back were dashed just before the hour mark. Benfield could only get a weak hand on a corner from the right, and Parker pounced to volley home from 5 yards.
Clever inter-play between Franklyn Clarke, Toby and James Stokoe made a chance for Stefan Penny but, coming in from the left, his shot went over the bar. Once more Burbidge played Toby through on the right, and once more Desbois denied him. But most of the attacking play was going in the other direction.
Shouts of: “Don’t let the tempo drop” echoed round the ground, and were heeded by the energetic home side. A header, then a wild shot, flew over Benfield’s cross-bar, Jack French was just wide, and Penny blocked another effort.
By the time referee Mannix blew his final whistle, Wimborne looked a well-beaten side.
Credit to The Row – they carried out their game plan and, on this performance, will soon pull well away from the danger zone.
Wimborne will look to put this below-par performance behind them when they take on promotion-chasing Salisbury at the Koolpak on Saturday.
Wimborne: Benfield, Clarke, Maybury, Davidson, Oldring, Francis (Pope, 67), Stokoe, Penny (Prior, 90), T.Holmes, Burbidge, L.Holmes Unused subs: Lee, Collins, Owen
Report by Graham Dunn