Match Report 2000/2001

Disputed penalty keeps Lions in the driving seat

Tuesday 24th April 2001 : Jewson Wessex League

Andover 1, Lymington & New Milton 1

A hotly disputed penalty decision may have put paid to any lingering hopes that the Linnets have of claiming the Wessex League title this time round. Despite becoming the first team to take any league points away from the Portway stadium this season, in truth a draw was probably not enough since it merely preserved the status quo; with Lymington & New Milton still eight points adrift of the league leaders. Player-manager Graham Kemp was still in defiant mood after the match however, saying "all the time Andover need points to clinch the title, we are still in with a chance".

It seemed for a time that it would go the Linnets way as they had enjoyed a greater share of possession in the first half and took the lead in the 50th minute with an excellent solo effort from Stuart Hussey who scored with a powerful 25 yard strike. This brought a storming response from the home side with Rusher hitting a post and then the crossbar in an effort to force an equaliser. This eventually arrived half-way through the second half when a curling shot by Rusher was cleared off the line by Holmes only for Webber to hit his follow up shot straight at Brett Phillips who, in the referee's opinion, deliberately deflected the ball over the bar with his hand. Phillips, who had already been booked in the first half, was sent off. Kearn made a valiant but vain attempt to keep out the resulting spot-kick by Rusher.

This was an interesting contrast with the reverse fixture played at Fawcetts Field, where Andover's 'keeper was 'given the benefit of the doubt' when, as the last line of defence, he had hauled down Leigh Phillips. After the game, Graham Kemp was furious : "It was a diabolical decision, Brett was one of three players on our goal-line. He [Webber] smashed the ball at him from a few yards and Brett couldn't possibly get out of the way. No way was it deliberate handball."

"Had Brett not been sent off I'm confident we would have beaten Andover" he went on to say. This is a moot point since, having struck the woodwork prior to the penalty incident, Rusher afterwards hit the bar with another effort and both he and Webber were close to grabbing a winner in the closing minutes. In a slightly more reflective mood, Kemp went on to praise his team's efforts; "The title race is far from over and I was proud of the way we fought tonight, although Andover probably deserved a draw."

The fixture pile-up continues to unwind with both sides due to play three times in the next seven days although it is Andover's form that has taken a slight dip in the last two games. Nevertheless, they only require seven points from five games to secure the title while L. & N.M. must go on winning and hoping.

Lymington & New Milton : Kearn, Stride, Mottashed, Kemp, Morris, B. Phillips, Holmes, Smith, S. Hussey, Town, Keeping, subs., Morrell, Miles, Grace.

Match reports on this site are based on those appearing in the New Milton Advertiser & Lymington Times (except where separately credited) with additional material from my own resources where relevant.