Match Report 2000/2001
Saturday 23rd December 2000 : Jewson Wessex League
Lymington & New Milton 1, Portsmouth Royal Navy 0
This match saw second from top play second from bottom
but for much of the game it was difficult to distinguish which team occupied
which position in the league. Indeed, although the sailors from Pompey may have
expected a beating on their visit to Fawcetts Field, the manner in which the
home side set about securing more league points in their quest for promotion
drew some unwelcome, if seasonal, comparisons with turkeys.
Certainly the visitors seemed to perform above their league status but it was a lacklustre performance by the Linnets who struggled to find any of their customary fluency, playing with a five man defence and often resorting to a long-ball game at odds with their customary style. Whether this tactical approach was a consequence of having reserve 'keeper Danny New in goal was unclear, especially as he had distinguished himself in the Reserves' convincing 5-1 defeat of the Navy's reserves a week previously, but if so it did not seem to demonstrate confidence in the young stand-in.
Nevertheless, the home side had their chances to record a more emphatic victory. In fact they had the ball in the net in the 17th minute of the game when Leigh Phillips headed home at the far post following a deep cross from Brett Phillips but the strike was disallowed, apparently for what the referee deemed to be a foul on the 'keeper by Phillips. This seemed to be one of those decisions that belong to the "don't touch the goalie on any account" school of refereeing much in vogue these days.
When the Linnets created legitimate strikes at goal, they found the Navy 'keeper in good form, denying Leigh Phillips with a point-blank save, then fisting away a dangerous inswinging corner by Brett Phillips and when he only managed to parry Smith's free-kick, Leigh Phillips put the loose ball wide from about one yard out.
Half-Time : L. & N.M., 0 Portsmouth 0
The pattern of frustration for the home side continued after the break, with a corner by Smith being flicked on by Leigh Phillips to Morris whose header thudded against the crossbar while another centre from Smith was deflected on to a post by a Navy defender before going out for a corner.
This lack of success in front of goal was nearly punished when, with the Linnets on the attack, Strong lost possession deep in the visitors' half and this led to a swift counter-attack which stand-in 'keeper New denied with a fingertip save from the first attempt before touching the follow-up effort against the woodwork. Following this warning, Holmes came on in place of Miles in an effort to strengthen the midfield as the home side tried to increase the level of pressure on the Navy's goal.
Despite considerable effort by the Linnets in the last quarter it seemed as if it was going to be "one of those days" as they searched for the breakthrough. Mottashed came on in place of Morris and was able to add height during a series of corners won by the home team, although to no avail. Finally, with the game moving into injury time, a ball played into the visitor's penalty area was touched on by Holmes to Stuart Hussey who drove the ball into the net to record his fourth goal in Lymington & New Milton colours.
In the end, this was probably an injustice to a Navy team that had defended with some grit and particularly to their 'keeper who had defied all that had been thrown at him until the 90th minute. A relieved home side therefore collected all three points on offer to bolster their title aspirations but will need to perform considerably better against higher placed opposition if they are to bring those plans to fruition.
Lymington & New Milton : New, Stride, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris, B. Phillips, Strong, N. Miles, Smith, S. Hussey, L. Phillips, subs : Mottashed, Holmes, 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.