Winchester City manager Neil Hards stayed away from his last game in charge of the Citizens because of a disagreement with director of football Dave Malone.

The Citizens finished the season on a high with a 2-0 victory over Lymington Town with Hards’s assistant Paul Masters taking charge. Sam Wilson’s brace secured the win.

Despite Hards wanting to be at the Denplan City Ground for his last game before Alresford co-managers Danny Robinson and Tim Cole takeover for the new season, he felt it would be best to steer clear following a clash with Malone, the man behind hiring the new managerial pair.

“I didn’t think it would be wise to go to the game,” said Hards.

“There was a disagreement between Dave and me, a bit of a miscommunication, it was my choice to stay away and it was for the best.

“It was a big shame though, because I wanted to be there to see the season and our jobs out.”

Hards took control at Winchester for the second time in October after the departure of Graham Kemp, the now manager of Hamworthy.

In his first spell at the club he led City to the FA Vase title in 2004 as well as ten other trophies in a three year stay from 2003 to 2006.

It was announced earlier this month that Hards would be stepping down from his role but he admits that he doesn’t plan to be out of football for long.

“I’ve got the bug back,” he said.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Winchester with a top bunch of lads and I want to find another club.

“I’ll have a bit of a break and get back into it. I’ve got that hunger back.”

Hards was inundated with calls and text messages from his players on Saturday evening thanking him for his hard work at the Citizens.

“Every player got in touch and said that they’d enjoyed football while they were with me and Paul (Masters).”

Hards continued: “I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time at Winchester.

“We were tasked with finishing in the top six and we’ve done that.

“We had to cut the wage budget and we did that, we cut it by 50 percent, and remained competitive.

“I’m happy with what we achieved.”