Match Report 2000/2001

Linnets in late eight show

Saturday 27th January 2001 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 8, Downton 1

A Leigh Phillips hat-trick, his fourth of the season, helped the title-chasing Linnets beat lowly Downton at Fawcett's Field. However, it took a 31st minute shock lead by the visitors to spark Lymington & New Milton into life and it was only a late goal deluge that made the score significant.

The match started in relatively low-key fashion with both sides creating the odd chance but nothing to suggest a high-scoring affair. Leigh Phillips had an early shot for the home side which just cleared the bar, while the visitors tested Kearn with a low shot. The first half-hour passed with little tangible result for either side and this maybe lulled the home defence into a mood of complacency because they were caught static by a patient Downton build-up that saw Guy put in the clear and he buried his shot past Kearn in the Linnets' goal.

However, before the visitors had even had time to savour their unexpected lead, Mark Smith equalised within a minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area that deflected off a defender into the net. Following this the Linnets gradually exerted more control and while midfield play was fairly evenly contested, the visitors offered little in attack, while the home side started to create chances for themselves.

One of these saw skipper Kemp move forward in support of his attack and unleash a fierce shot from about 35 yards that the Downton 'keeper could only parry. The ball rebounded to Strong whose effort was blocked by a defender. A few minutes later Strong had another chance with the 'keeper stranded on the edge of his penalty area and his lobbed effort just cleared the post. Then with a couple of minutes to go to the interval, a Strong-Stride combination produced a chance for Leigh Phillips, who volleyed it into the net to give the Linnets the half-time advantage.

Half-Time : L. & N.M., 2 Downton 1

The second half was only two minutes old when Steve Strong made it 3-1 with a powerful shot on the turn which the 'keeper could only parry into the net. Moments later the home side could have increased their advantage when a cross by Kemp was handled by a Downton defender but Leigh Phillips' spot-kick was blazed over the bar. Although battling hard in defence and midfield, the visitors made little impression on a well-organised defence.

Manager Binns chose to ring the changes and introduced Matt Hussey for Brett Phillips and Mottashed for Morris. It made little difference as far as the visitors were concerned, indeed Mottashed found time to move forward in support of the attack and, shortly after coming on , found himself receiving the ball out wide on the edge of the Downton box. His cross seemed to travel along the visitors' goal-line with no able to convert the chance.

A final change saw Nick Miles replace Smith but with Lymington & New Milton seemingly coasting to victory and Downton battling to keep the score respectable, suddenly the whole match changed. With less than 15 minutes to go, Strong collected a loose ball and made for the by-line, centering for Leigh Phillips to head home. Three minutes later, with the ball bobbling around in a crowded penalty area, Stuart Hussey applied the finishing touch.

With the home side now relishing the opportunity to express themselves, it was Stuart Hussey again who waltzed past two defenders before scoring from an acute angle with five munutes left. Then in the 89th minute, a corner taken by Stride was met by Hussey whose shot was blocked by the 'keeper only for Leigh Phillips to complete his hat-trick by tucking away the rebound. There was still time for one more as Steve Strong picked up a rebound and advancing on the Downton goal, shot low past a, by now, demoralised 'keeper.

Linnets' boss Derek Binns was satisfied with the nature of his side's victory. He said : "We hadn't been particularly great for the first half-hour and they managed to break away and their guy side-footed the ball home. But that sparked us into life a bit. In patches during the second half, we played some of the best football we've played all season."

It therefore must have come as something of a shock to the players, after their most comprehensive victory of the season, to find that the club's executive committee had already made the decision to withdraw an application to join the Southern League next season; on financial grounds.

The players were informed immediately after the match and manager Binns said "The players were obviously disappointed. They are a good and loyal bunch of lads. They know that their immediate priority is to try to win the Wessex League." Binns himself declined to be drawn on the club's decision, saying that he "wanted time to digest the situation".

Lymington & New Milton : Kearn, Stride, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris (Mottashed 60), Holmes, B. Phillips, (M. Hussey 55), Smith (N. Miles 75), S. Hussey, Strong, L. Phillips.

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.