As with last season’s final, the Magpies got the better of the Rockies but this was a much closer contest that belied the 2-league difference between the teams. The arrival of substitute Luke Burbidge swung the game in the visitors’ favour in the last 20 minutes.
Manager Matty Holmes took the opportunity to have a look at recent signings Kieran Douglas and Andrew Shah in defence, and striker Steve Flynn paired with Toby Holmes up front; and gave a start to squad players. He had a strong bench to call on if needed.
It was Shaftesbury who had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the first minute. Centre forward Greg Peel, formerly of Larkhall, made space near the left by-line to send a low cross into Gerard Benfield’s goal-area where an on-rushing forward was inches away from turning the ball in.
Wimborne’s first opportunity was created by Curtis Young on the left. He rounded home keeper Johnny Hill, but his cut-back was cleared. Much of Wimborne’s threat came down that left side. Marauding Stefan Penny testing the defence with a whipped-in cross on 17 minutes, and the keeper with a 20-yard drive 5 minutes later. Toby was put through on the right shortly after, but dragged his effort wide of the far post when one-on-one with keeper Hill.
As thoughts turned to a warming half-time cuppa, Wimborne took the lead. The imperious Billy Maybury responded to Penny’s call with an inch-perfect diagonal pass. The full-back controlled the ball instantly, cut inside his man, and his low cross-cum-shot eluded everyone and crossed the line inside the far post despite the desperate effort of a defender.
Shaftesbury had a good spell at the start of the second period, and were denied by a well-timed sliding tackle by that man Penny on 52 minutes. However, the Rockies did equalise mid-way through the half. Peel made space for himself down the inside-right channel, and forced Benfield into a good diving save. Lewis Morgan was quickest to react, and slammed home the rebound.
Manager Holmes called on Luke Burbidge, and that turned out to be a crucial substitution. On 71 minutes he finished a jinking run across the penalty area with a pass to Rhys Owen on the left. The winger cut inside and struck a peach of a curler into the top far corner. It was reminiscent of Franklyn’s “November goal-of-the-month” against Hartley Wintney.
That goal effectively ended the game as a contest, but Burbidge wasn’t finished. Linking up with fellow substitute Luke Holmes from a corner, he wriggled his way in from the right past defenders and keeper before slamming the ball into the net on 87 minutes.
Credit to Shaftesbury for the way they played, but in the end Wimborne had too much fire-power for the Wessex League side. Douglas had an impressive battle with Peel, and looked comfortable on the ball; Shah again showed what a speedy full-back he is; Flynn battled away up front as he learns the Wimborne way of playing; and Owen scored another eye-catching goal. A good night’s work for Matty’s Magpies, and a welcome first away win of the season.
Wimborne: Benfield, Shah (Davidson 86), Penny, Lee, Douglas, Francis, Maybury, Owen, T.Holmes (Burbidge 63), Flynn, Young (L.Holmes 78). Unused sub: Lovell