Match Report 2001/2002

Linnets take the spoils in nine-a-side contest

Saturday 19th January 2002 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 3, Blackfield & Langley 0

Lymington & New Milton manager, Graham Kemp, hailed his squad as "the best in the Wessex League" as they easily outclassed lowly (but recently reinvigorated) Blackfield despite having two players sent off. Referee Ray Cody sent off Linnets' wing-back Paul Liddon after he picked up two bookings in the space of a minute in the first half. Blackfield's defender Simon Eagle was also dismissed for two yellows before half-time. They were later joined in the second half by Linnets' defender Paul Gazzard and Blackfield's Wayne Harvey.

On a pitch made very slippery by an earlier downpour, there was always going to be the likelihood of players struggling to keep their footing when making tackles. Whether this contributed to the disciplinary mayhem is a moot point but it took only a couple of minutes from the kick-off before the referee was reaching for his notebook; booking Blackfield's Simon Eagle for a sliding tackle on Steve Strong that was deemed to be illegitimate. Minutes later and the home side were in front when a ball lifted over the visitor's defence found Steve Strong in a race for possession with the Blackfield 'keeper. Although seeming to reach the ball simultaneously, it nevertheless fell kindly into the path of Steve Tate, who had the simple task of placing the ball into the unguarded net to record his first goal in serious action since joining the club a couple of weeks ago.

Blackfield had an early opportunity to equalise when Rowley found himself unmarked with only Linnets' 'keeper Stewart Kearn to beat but he hesitated and the chance was lost. Linnets' defender Paul Liddon then found himself incurring the referee's displeasure, earning himself a yellow card after tangling with a Blackfield forward and from the resulting free-kick Burdle shot narrowly over the bar. Only moments later Liddon again found himself in trouble when a marginally late tackle was penalised by a second yellow followed by the obligatory red one. Mitchener in the Blackfield goal was then awarded a yellow after kicking the ball away in disagreement with a refereeing decision.

Despite being a man short, the Linnets had opportunities to extend their lead but both Glenister and then Tate failed to capitalise. Blackfield pressed to try to take advantage of their numerical superiority but this was nullified right on half-time when Eagle got himself involved in a tangle with Glenister and received his second yellow and consequent marching orders.

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

With parity in the 'body count' thus re-established, play at the start of the second-half switched from end to end. Glenister was unlucky when his shot struck the visitor's post, while at the other end Kearn had to make a smart save from Maitland. Blackfield managed to exert some further pressure on the Linnets' goal with Kearn needing two attempts before gathering a 25 yard shot from Rowley before Wheatland managed to blast a shot the wrong side of a post. This preceded the next piece of indiscipline when Harvey was adjudged to have felled Strong a little too enthusiastically and received a red card for his pains.

L&NM then made their habitual mid-period substituition, Brett Phillips coming on for Ross Drew and with the home side enjoying a period of numerical superiority, his skill and experience became immediately noticeable. However it was one of his fellow midfielders, Jimmy Sheppard, who now took centre-stage on 70 minutes when he unleashed a 25 yard shot that fairly fizzed into the net to earn himself his first goal since his recent return from Brockenhurst. It was probably just as well because moments later the game became a nine-a-side affair when Paul Gazzard was dismissed after colliding with Blackfield's Nathan Renyard.

With ten minutes to go, Darren Mooney came on in place of Liam Green but there was still time for Brett Phillips to work his way down the left before squaring the ball into the path of leading-scorer Richie Glenister who made up for his earlier misses by hitting home his 22nd goal of the season to clinch a well-won victory for the home side. In a bizarre twist after the game, referee Cody acknowledged that his dismissal of Paul Gazzard had been incorrect when he realised that the Linnets' defender had not been given two yellows and agreed to rescind the erroneous red card awarded during the game. L&NM's player-manager Graham Kemp expressed his dissatisfaction after the match, "There was only one bad tackle in the match and yet four got sent off. O.K. we won 3-0 this time but if it had been a top-of-the-table clash against Wimborne, say, we would have been furious to lose Paul Gazzard in those circumstances and the player was needlessly upset."

Kemp is just one of a growing band of Wessex managers who feel that the standard of refereeing in the league this year has not been up to scratch. In addition to the action already taken in relation to Gazzard's dismissal, Kemp is also considering an appeal against the red card shown to Paul Liddon. Meanwhile, Blackfield manager Terry Smith apparently had to be forcibly restrained by his club colleagues from venting his displeasure over the handling of the game.

On the positive side, Kemp, whose side are now fifth in the table, said: "I have built up a tremendous squad here, the best in the league, and although the championship may be a bridge too far this season, we can still finish second." Fighting talk from a captain whose ship had been almost sunk without trace only 3 days before by lowly-placed Cowes Sports, but with a plethora of home games to come and with virtually all the league's leading sides still to play each other, any outcome is possible.

Lymington and New Milton : Kearn, Liddon, Green [Mooney 80], Kemp, Morris, Gazzard, Sheppard, Drew [B Phillips 65], Strong, Tate, Glenister. Unused sub: Morrell.

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.

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