WINCHESTER City boss Neil Hards says the referee had no option but to send off Horndean goalkeeper Stefan Clark in Saturday’s Sydenhams Premier showdown at the Denplan City Ground.

Much as Hards, himself a ’keeper, feels it might have been fairer if Ryan Holloway’s ‘goal’ had stood and the ’keeper had stayed on the park, match official Craig Robson had already blown his whistle.

Winchester were leading through Matt Scott’s header from a corner when ’keeper Clark dropped a cross midway through the first half and brought down Holloway as the City man attempted to get a shot away.

Holloway got up again and netted the loose ball, but the referee had already blown for the foul and pointed to the spot.

“We’d scored anyway, but hindsight’s a wonderful thing,” said Hards. “The referee didn’t know we were going to score, someone could have got back and clawed the ball away.

“The ’keeper was unlucky to be sent off, but it wouldn’t have happened in the first place if he hadn’t dropped the ball. “To be fair to the ref, he’d already blown and, by the letter of the law, the lad had to go.

“Maybe the ref should have let play go on a bit longer, but there’s no point arguing. Referees make errors, but not as many as players do during a game, and I wouldn’t want their job for the world.”

Chris Flood made it 2-0 from the spot and Lloyd Webber almost got a third for City before the break, but his long-range blast cannoned off the bar.

City’s 3-0 victory was eventually wrapped up by Flood’s second, but goalkeeper Ross Casey played his part, tipping a terrific Louis Bell effort over, while Deans’ Tom Chapman hit the woodwork.

“We started well but after that second goal went in we got caught in the mindset that we’re 2-0 up against ten men, in control and it’s going to be a bit of a cake walk,” said Hards. “But it was far from that. Horndean were very hard-working and the lad who went in goal (Kev Chatfield) was great.”

Winchester – away to Lymington Town tonight – have made a couple of signings as they bid to keep hold of second spot in the Sydenhams Premier.

Midfielder Cassius Newton – son of former Chelsea assistant boss Eddie – has signed from Eastleigh and Hards has brought in left-sided player Dan Bapty from Stockbridge.