LYMINGTON & NEW MILTON FC Match Report 2001/2002

Linnets grounded as Stags respond in kind

Saturday 6th April 2002 : Jewson Wessex League

AFC Totton 2, Lymington & New Milton 0

Lymington and New Milton player-manager Graham Kemp admitted he was "very despondent" after his side had wasted a good opportunity to put themselves back into the Wessex League title race. With favourites Andover slipping to a surprise 3-1 home defeat to Gosport and Wimborne beating Fleet, victory for the Linnets would have put them on level points with the champions before a head-to-head between the two clubs at Fawcett's Field the following Thursday. With Andover and Fleet also due to play each other twice before the end of the season, this represented an unexpected chance to reopen the title issue that has seemed tantalisingly just out of their grasp in recent weeks.

All of which ignores Totton's own title aspirations which, having led the table for some time now, cannot be so easily forgotten. Of course the assumption has been that, having played more games than all their rivals (expecially Andover), it was only a matter of time before the Stags found themselves 'reined-in' by the chasing pack. This view was reinforced when they lost the reverse of this fixture 2-0 only two weeks ago at New Milton and thus gave fresh impetus to L&NM's own title chance.

However, in a curious reversal from the previous game, when a lacklustre Totton side had seemed to capitulate too easily, so it was with the Linnets in this contest. So, for the time being it is Totton who remain in pole position after young reserve graduate Mark Osman scored one and made one for Scott Bundy at Testwood Park. Osman broke the deadlock for the hosts on 16 minutes before Leigh Phillips squandered a chance to pull Linnets level just after, missing the target from six yards. Totton doubled their advantage on 38 minutes when Bundy headed home Osman's cross after a quick throw on the right. Linnets' boss Graham Kemp believes his side threw in the towel. He said: "It wasn't just the fact we lost, but the way we lost. We explained before the game the whole points scenario and that if we won we could realistically still win the title, but we went down without a fight. We didn't deserve anything. Totton closed us down and worked hard."

He went on to say: "I haven't seen a performance like that for two months and I am so disappointed. It's like we are taking one step forward and two steps back all the time. We had the ideal opportunity to put ourselves in the driving seat and we didn't have the heart for a battle. All we had to do was give the effort we have done in the last three games and the title could have been in our hands again but there was nothing. I'm very despondent. I am the one who is out five nights a week trying to convince players to sign for us next season saying we want to go Southern League. But they must be laughing at us when they see performances like that and thinking we haven't got a hope in hell of getting into the Southern League. The only positive I can take is with the other results. We didn't really lose any ground at the top but it's given the teams below the chance to catch up."

Lymington & New Milton: Kearn, Gazzard, B. Phillips [Keeping 65], Kemp, Morris, Mottashed, Sheppard, Drew [Strong 65], L. Phillips [Town 75], Glenister, Tate.

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