LYMINGTON & NEW MILTON FC Match Report 2001/2002

Pike looks on as Linnets cup hopes are demolished

Tuesday 19th March 2002 :
Wessex League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg

Andover 5, Lymington & New Milton 0 [Agg. 8-1]


Reigning champions Andover demolished Lymington & New Milton at the Portway Stadium to keep their hopes of a league and cup "double" very much on course. Starting this match with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg at New Milton, the Lions always looked in control of the game and ruthlessly exploited the Linnets' attempts to find a way back into the tie.

Watched by their newly-appointed assitant manager, Alex Pike, this was a Linnets' performance that showed all the shortcomings that have seen them drop below the high standards of recent seasons. In steady rain and on a greasy pitch which in parts looked to have the consistency of rice pudding, both teams tried to condense the play by defending high up the pitch, leaving acres of space at the back for strikers to exploit with the right pass.

The only issue was who would adapt to the conditions better. With Leigh Phillips and Steve Tate held in a virtual stranglehold by a well marshalled home defence it always looked more likely that the home side would provide the breakthrough. Playing in a style which eschews finesse in favour of hard hit diagonal passes and willing and able runners, it seemed only a matter of time before the Lions drew first blood.

That it took them most of the first half to do so was largely due to some spirited defending and a lot of offside decisions favouring the visitors. L&NM's cause was not helped when Steve Strong, whose pace had seemed the most likely source of prising open the home side's offside trap, was injured and had to be substituted, Gareth Keeping taking his place. The frustration was clearly mounting and Leigh Phillips and Darren Mooney both incurred the referee's displeasure for arguing their case too volubly.

Inevitably however, the goal came. After Dave Asker had been put in on goal by a poor clearance and had hit the post when it seemed easier to score, Paul Odey crossed the ball to leading goalscorer Andy Forbes who netted with the aid of a defender's deflection to give the home side an interval lead.

With the tie all but lost, the Linnets threw caution to the wind in the second-half, bringing on recently injured leading scorer, Richie Glenister to form a three-man attack. Unfortunately this simply gave more time and space at the back for the home side to exploit. This they did to perfection early in the second half when Forbes was played in behind the Linnets' defence and he crossed for Paul Odey to score.

At the other end, Lymington & New Milton's strike force, who because of injury and suspension have only had a handful of games together in the past few weeks, seemed to lack the cohesion so evident in the home side's attack and with the midfield seeming to get bogged down in the mud, or isolated out wide; there seemed little chance of a face-saving score. Instead it was Andover who piled on the agony, gaining a third goal through Matt Bicknell from the penalty spot after Simpson had been brought down.

There was to be no let-up. This time it was Dyke who tormented the L&NM defence before crossing for Odey to score and in the final minute, Forbes once again turned provider as he broke and crossed for Odey to complete his hat-trick. The Lions now meet Fleet in the final on May 6th at Gosport and on this performance it will be a brave man who bets against them. In the meantime, L&NM have to pick themselves up and put this one behind them as quickly as possible, particularly since they have to face the same opponents twice more before the season ends, with the next encounter due in a week's time in the Semi-finals of the Russell Cotes Cup at New Milton.

Lymington & New Milton: Kearn, Strong [Keeping], B. Phillips [Glenister], Gazzard, Morris, Kemp, Mooney, Smith, L Phillips [Town], Tate, Drew.

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