Match Report 2000/2001

Phillips strikes scuttle Fleet

Saturday 14th April 2001 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 2, Fleet Town 0

Playing their fourth game in eight days, the Linnets were looking to make it four wins in a row and so keep up the pressure on league-leaders Andover in the chase for the Wessex League title. Their opponents, relegated from the Southern League last season, have blown hot and cold in terms of form this season but came into this match only one place lower than L. & N.M., albeit rather distant in terms of points.

The match started in lively fashion with scoring chances for both sides in the early minutes. First up, Strong progressed down the visitors' right before putting in a cross which beat Watson in the Fleet goal before rebounding off the far post. Kearn had to be alert in the home goal and produced a snap one-handed save to keep out a volley from Smith before being beaten by Field's lob which, fortunately for the home side, also cleared the crossbar.

Following these early exchanges, Lymington & New Milton started to put their game together and there followed a sustained period of pressure on the visitors' goal. Leigh Phillips miscued in front of goal when he should have done better, while Town similarly failed to hit the target following good build-up play by Morris. With Fleet now pinned back around their own area, Stride was able to come forward and unleash one of his characteristically full-blooded drives from the edge of the box which was deflected by a defender into the path of Holmes whose effort was stopped right on the goal-line. Eventually, just before half-time, the pressure told when Strong was upended in the area and Leigh Phillips buried the resulting penalty to give the Linnets a just reward for their efforts.

Half-Time : L. & N.M. 1, Fleet 0

Determined to press their advantage, Lymington & New Milton started the second half where they had left off in the first; besieging the visitors' goal. Once again Strong was quick to show as he raced onto a ball played over the top of the Fleet defence, nodding it down before shooting on the run. His effort was parried by Watson who then managed to deflect the follow-up round the post for a corner. In the ensuing scramble, all the visitors could do was clear the ball for another corner and from the resulting play, Holmes managed to put in a shot on the half-volley which just cleared the crossbar.

Despite the home side's efforts, Fleet still managed to pose a threat on the break and Kearn was forced to pull off a point-blank save from Field to prevent an equaliser in one such attack. Nevertheless, it was the Linnets who were playing with the greater authority, with some good passing moves originating from a defence in which stand-in full-back Morrell was distinguishing himself. From one such build-up, Smith grazed the visitors' woodwork with a 25 yard drive. Moving into the last quarter of the match, L. & N.M. brought on Keeping and Miles in place of Strong and Town.

With only fifteen minutes to go, it looked as though the Linnets would have to be content with a narrow victory and the three points. Then Smith played a diagonal ball through which bisected the Fleet defence and found Leigh Phillips who controlled the ball before shooting low past Watson to put the result almost beyond doubt. There was still time for some further pressure on the visitors' goal, even player-manager Kemp finding time to move forward and take a shot but his effort was wildly off target. In the end, a satisfactory result that keeps the Linnets' title challenge afloat for a while longer.

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