Match Report 2000/2001

Leigh off but Eastleigh seen off

Saturday 7th April 2001 : Jewson Wessex League

Eastleigh 0, Lymington & New Milton 1

Lymington & New Milton's leading marksman Leigh Phillips is known for his whole-hearted approach to the game, it is one reason why he gets so many goals for the Linnets but, just occasionally, it also gets him into trouble! So it was in this match when, just over half-way through the first half, Phillips challenged the home goalkeeper for a loose ball and was dismissed for what the referee apparently considering to be stamping on his opponent.

This was obviously a set-back to the Linnets, who were just beginning to exert some control against a home side that had pressured them from the kick-off. With a number of players missing through injury, the Linnets fielded a team that, on paper at least, had a 3-4-3 formation with youngster Gareth Keeping again given a chance in the midfield line. Playing in (the by now customary) awful conditions, Lymington & New Milton took a while to come to terms with their opponents with Smith and Keeping having to work particularly hard to protect their defence. Having weathered Eastleigh's initial pressure however, the Linnets were just beginning to show their mettle when Phillips was dismissed. Hoping to exploit their numerical advantage, the home side resumed the offensive and the Linnets were, in player-manager Graham Kemp's words, "hanging on until half-time."

Half-Time : Eastleigh 0, L. & N.M. 0

Having reorganised during the break, Lymington & New Milton played the second half with a confidence that must have dismayed their opponents, particularly since they did it with only ten men. Always trying to take the game to the home side with a characteristic display of passing football which belied the conditions, the Linnets were rewarded half way through the period by a goal from Stuart Hussey, who broke on the right and finished with a well-struck shot inside the near post. Neither was this a case of "smash-and-grab" as L.& N.M. forced a series of corners and several good saves from the Eastleigh 'keeper both before and after the goal.

The game was marred to some degree by an officious referee, who appeared not to take account of the conditions when handing out a number of bookings but the Linnets could take credit for a determined team performance which overcame all obstacles to take the three points back to Fawcetts Field. Afterwards, Graham Kemp suggested that an appeal might be lodged against Phillips' dismissal but that he would await a copy of the referee's report before deciding. Phillips vehemently denies the stamping allegation and Kemp, after discussing the incident with the player after the match said; "Leigh has gone in 100 per cent like he tends to do and I think he feels that he is being victimised by people who take offence to his totally committed attitude. Leigh said that Gage [Eastleigh's 'keeper] had dropped the ball and he challenged for it."

On a personal note, I do not know the rights and wrongs of this particular case but I would be very disappointed if players were prevented from giving their full commitment to the game in the way that Leigh Phillips clearly does.

Lymington & New Milton : Kearn, Strong, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris, B. Phillips, Keeping, Smith, S. Hussey, L. Phillips, Town.

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.