WINCHESTER City are licking their wounds after suffering a third loss on the bounce in the Southern One South & West.
A single Luke Bryan goal midway through the second half sentenced them to a 1-0 defeat at lowly Yate yesterday.
It is turning into a dismal end to the season for the Citizens who came into 2017 plotting a play-off push, but have now slumped to a mediocre tenth.
And, with six games to play, manager Ian Saunders says it would be “a travesty” if they continue to go downhill after showing so much promise earlier in the campaign.
“It was one of those days,” he sighed. “The first half was not the greatest game of football and the only time we switched off in the whole game, they scored.
“That put a rocket up us and for the last 30 minutes we were excellent. We did everything but score.
“Their 'keeper must have made seven or eight saves. Some of them were routine, but two or three were outstanding.
“It’s just a shame it took Yate to score for us to give it a real good go.
“Yate defended manfully but, on another day, we might have got one or two goals.”
Bluebells 'keeper Harvey Richards was the main reason they didn’t.
Having tipped Jamie Ford’s effort over early in the second half, he went on to make excellent stops from Howard Neighbour, Stuart Green and Lewis Hyde.
Saunders, whose side host Barnstaple this Saturday, said: “We’ve dropped to tenth and, if we continue in this vein and the season ends up a damp squib, it would be a travesty.
“We’ve got 18 points to play for and I want all 18. We’ve got Hereford and Tiverton still to play, so the likelihood of us doing that is slim, but we have to try.”
Petersfield Town, the club Saunders left to join Winchester last summer, are on their way out of the Southern League.
John Robson’s Rams were officially condemned to Division One Central relegation yesterday, beaten 1-0 at home by Aylesbury.
“I just hope they can relax now, not worry too much and get a couple of results before the end of the season,” said Saunders. “Then they can rebuild in the Wessex League.
“It’s disappointing after all the work we did to get up, but these things happen in football. I still feel I left them in a good place. It’s just a shame it didn’t work out.”
*SALISBURY took just 22 seconds to be knocked out of their stride in a 2-0 defeat at Southern One South & West play-off rivals Tiverton Town.
The Whites, shorn of injured star striker Justin Bennett, instantly slipped into arrears when the ball fell kindly for Jamie Price to blast home.
Salisbury enjoyed plenty of second-half possession but were ‘Priced’ out of it for a second time on 73 minutes when the Tivvy midfielder struck again with a curling finish.
It was the Whites’ first league defeat since early January, leaving Steve Claridge’s men fourth in the table with seven games to play.
This Saturday they host runaway league leaders Hereford in an all-ticket showdown.