LYMINGTON & NEW MILTON FC Match Report 2001/2002

Linnets "second-best" in final home match

Saturday 20th April 2002 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 1, AFC Newbury 3

Linnets followers will have been disappointed by the club's performance in this, their final home fixture of a season that had started with high hopes. Having already lost any lingering hopes of lifting the championship title, manager Graham Kemp was still looking for a top-three finish from his team but was forced to concede that on the day his side were "second-best throughout" to opponents who were playing for little except pride.

Prior to the game, long-serving defender Paul Morris received the Lymington & New Milton Supporters' Player of the Year award. This was a deserved recognition of the consistent high standard set by the dependable Morris despite the unexpectedly inconsistent form of the team as a whole throughout the season. Morris took his customary place in a line-up which saw Leigh Phillips deployed in a "withdrawn" midfield position, instead of his usual striking role - apparently an attempt to reduce his exposure to further disciplinary problems for the rest of this season - with Steve Tate partnering leading-scorer Richard Glenister "up front".

On a bone-hard pitch, the high bounce of the match-ball meant that it spent more time in the air than was desirable and both sides initially struggled to impose any kind of control over proceedings. Just past the twenty minute mark, L&NM had a chance when a corner by Liam Green was met on the half-volley by Paul Gazzard, but his effort flashed wide. A few minutes later Newbury took the lead without having previously posed any significant threat. A through-ball by Romeo to Watt caught the home defence completely flat-footed and the Newbury striker finished clinically past Spillane. Boosted by this, the visitors nearly grabbed a second and Green had to make a last-ditch clearance to deny Romeo.

The game started to open up and although the Linnets' strike-force of Tate and Glenister was looking ineffective, chances were being created but first Leigh Phillips then Gareth Keeping were guilty of wasting good opportunities to equalise, with Keeping blazing over the bar when it seemed easier to score. At the other end, Newbury were equally culpable with two glaring misses but with half-time approaching Watt skilfully set up Pegler who steered the ball round the advancing Spillane from just inside the box.

Half-time : L.&N.M. 0 Newbury 2

After a tedious passage of play at the start of the second half, the Linnets were suddenly thrown a lifeline when Richard Glenister displayed his predatory instincts to tap home from close range after Green's initial shot had been parried into his path by the Newbury goalkeeper. Having taken one opportunity however, Glenister was guilty of missing two further "gilt-edged" chances which cost his side dear. Firstly he was put clear of the visitors' defence by Tate, only for the 'keeper to get a deflection when greater composure by the Linnets' striker would surely have levelled the scores, and then when he latched onto a long ball from Graham Kemp putting him in a one-on-one situation with the 'keeper again only to be denied by a point-blank save.

Perhaps disheartened by these misses, L&NM struggled to create any further positive play, while Newbury seemed content to hold onto their lead rather than force the issue. With just over ten minutes remaining Nigel Mottashed and Steve Strong came on in place of Ross Drew and Steve Tate but they and their team-mates could do nothing to prevent a slick passing move by the visitors two minutes later, which ended with Neville slotting home his team's third goal as if to emphasise the difference between the two sides.

For the Linnets, only the aforementioned Paul Morris and another long-serving defender, Jason Stride, could truthfully be said to have come out of the game with any credit and this was reflected in Graham Kemp's post-match analysis : "It was not good enough. We only competed for about 25 minutes and you cannot win matches like that. We were second-best throughout and I have no complaints about the result. New signings are imminent."

Lymington and New Milton: Spillane, Drew [Mottashed 78], Stride, Kemp, Morris, Gazzard, Green, Keeping, L. Phillips, Tate [Strong, 78], Glenister. Unused sub: Town.

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