Match Report 2001/2002

Chances galore....but it's Bemerton at the double

Saturday 3rd November 2001 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 0, Bemerton Heath Harlequins 2

Having surrendered a previously unblemished record against their opponents from Salisbury less than two months before, Lymington & New Milton had an early opportunity to put the record straight in this rescheduled fixture. However, coming into the match off the back of two successive defeats, the Linnets presented a less than fearsome prospect for their visitors than they have for several years. Still missing their principal striker, Leigh Phillips, whose suspension was due to end a week later, L&NM have struggled in his absence to find anything approaching the form of their last three seasons.

It was Bemerton who made the early running and Cole had a free header on goal as soon as the 3rd minute but wasted the opportunity. Moments later, team-mate Richardson lost his footing when well placed only yards from the home goal. Gradually, the Linnets gained some measure of control in the game, although there was little fluency in their game and certain players seemed decidely out of sorts, with misdirected passes and set-piece plays being the order of the day.

Despite this, they had chances. Fit again Mark Smith drove wide from a corner, leading-scorer Richie Glenister dragged his shot wide when put clean through on goal and Glenister again shot wide with a volleyed attempt moments later. This seemed to set the tone as, next up, Matt Town miscued his shot wide with the whole goal gaping in front of him. So it went on - Town was again unsuccessful when his shot rebounded from a visiting defender standing on the goal-line and then Glenister was denied when his attempted lob over the 'Quins 'keeper was fingertipped to safety.

Bemerton weathered the storm and nearly grabbed the lead when a powerful inswinging corner had to be pushed over the bar by Linnets' 'keeper Kearn. Having given notice of their intentions, the visitors did take the lead five minutes before half-time. With the home side pressing, 'Quins broke rapidly in a counter attack and although Kearn made an excellent save from the initial shot he was powerless to prevent Guy reaching the rebound and ramming the ball home. There was still time for the home side to grab an equaliser but Town's effort was denied by the feet of the Bemerton custodian.

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

The second half quickly took on a similar pattern to the first, aided and abetted by a referee who seemed keen to allow the game to flow. The home side again created a number of chances but could not find the vital touch, while the visitors worked hard to contain them and then threatened on the break; their speed in particular causing problems for Kemp and Morris in the centre of the Linnets' defence.

In fact, Lymington & New Milton had to be grateful to their goalkeeper, Stewart Kearn, who made a couple of excellent point-blank saves that kept his side in the game. Still the chances came and went. Smith hit a powerful shot just wide of the target, Glenister contrived a shot 'on the turn' which flashed just wide of a post and then Paul Liddon, who had created several dangerous crosses, saw one of these headed over the bar by a defender when it had appeared goal-bound.

The game wore on and still the home side sought for a breakthrough. James Bailey-Pearce went close as did a shot from Brett Phillips and with time running out reinforcements were called for in the shape of Scott Metcalf and Chris Marwood, who replaced Town and Bailey-Pearce. These two seemed to inject some urgency into the Linnets' play and a slick passing interchange created a two on one situation, however Smith could only hold his head in hands as his shot on goal was denied by an acrobatic backward leap from the Bemerton 'keeper.

As if this was hard enough to swallow, the final denouement came with only a couple of minutes remaining when skipper Paul Morris, seemingly under no immediate pressure, turned a speculative Bemerton cross into a match-deciding goal when he sliced his attempted clearance into his own net. Thus the visitors were able to claim a league 'double' over a side who had previously beaten them seven times out of seven. It is to be wondered what odds one could have got for such an outcome pre-season. A subdued Graham Kemp summed it up by saying : "We didn't play badly, but we missed chances and gave away two sloppy goals." With the number of chances created, the return of Leigh Phillips' goal-scoring knack cannot come too soon.

Lymington & New Milton : Kearn, Liddon, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris, B. Phillips, Drew, Smith, Glenister, Town [Metcalf 80], Bailey-Pearce [Marwood 80], unused sub. 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.

  Online with the Linnets © Paul Johns MMI