Match Report 2000/2001

Linnets progress blown off course

Saturday 28th October 2000 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 0, Thatcham Town 2

This game was played in appalling weather with a gale-force wind and driving rain making playing conditions almost impossible. Lymington & New Milton, faced with a mounting injury list, fielded Nick Miles; the recently signed striker from Salisbury.

Kicking off into the gale, the Linnets pressed immediately. In the first minute, a cross from Town resulted in a diving header from Leigh Phillips; unfortunately straight at the visiting 'keeper. A few minutes later, Miles was put clean through by a pass from Strong but he shot wide with only the 'keeper to beat and, in the next attack; Miles' powerful shot was blocked by the 'keeper's feet.

The visitors were relying on long balls forward, using the wind advantage and trying to catch the home defence on the break. One such instance nearly did the trick as the ball skidded across the face of the Linnets' goal and Kearn was forced to save the resulting shot with his feet. However, most of the play in this period was concentrated around the visitor's goal where either Lymington & New Milton could not apply the final finish or they found that their efforts were denied by a packed defence.

It was somewhat against the run of play therefore when Thatcham executed a classic smash and grab play to open the scoring just after the twenty minute mark. A quick break gave the visitors possession on the right and the ensuing cross evaded the home defence but found Green placed unmarked at the far post from where he made no mistake in steering the ball into the net. The Linnets' response was immediate as Town put a powerful shot just wide of the Thatcham goal and then Smith managed to shoot just wide of the other post. This was typical of the remainder of the half with Lymington & New Milton unable to convert superiority of possession into a goal.

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

If anything, the weather got worse at the start of the second half and the kick off was made in torrential rain. Play became disjointed as any ball played into the wind would often be returned almost to the kicker's feet, and both sides were repeatedly penalised for being caught offside. Still the home side enjoyed most of the territorial advantage but were unable to make it count. The best chance fell to Mottashed, whose powerful header was saved by the Thatcham 'keeper who desperately clutched the ball away from just below the crossbar.

Once again the Linnets were made to pay for their profligacy. With only a quarter of the match remaining a weak, miscued clearance from skipper Kemp was pounced on by the visitors just outside the penalty area and the ball was nicely teed up for Norris to double their advantage. With time running out, Lymington & New Milton went all out on the attack. Leigh Phillips was put through and he rounded the 'keeper only to find his shot cleared off the line by a retreating defender. From a Sheppard corner, Strong hit a powerful shot which grazed the bar on it's way over.

In a last roll of the dice, manager Derek Binns sent on three substitutes - Gonzales, Rideout and Keeping in place of Town, Strong and the injured Miles - and pressure was maintained on the Thatcham goal as Rideout made a surging run but his cross fell behind the waiting Leigh Phillips. In the dying moments, The visitor's 'keeper was penalised for time-wasting and Mottashed hammered the free-kick goalwards only to find the ball deflected out of harm's way by the Thatcham 'keeper. In the end, a case of much ado about nothing for the home side.

One of the choicer post-match quotes from the Linnets' manager in describing their performance was "brain dead". In more circumspect mood he also suggested that the team had to learn how to cope with teams that visited Fawcetts Field determined to defend and play on the break and accepted that although the conditions had made the match difficult; that it had been the same for both teams. So the Linnets have lost top spot in the league to Andover, who they visit in two week's time in a match that may have a considerable bearing on the outcome of the Wessex League this season.

Lymington & New Milton : Kearn, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris, Mottashed, Sheppard, Smith, Strong, Town, L. Phillips, Miles,  subs : Gonzales, Rideout, Keeping.

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.