Match Report 2001/2002

Whitchurch spell finally broken

Saturday 16th February 2002 : Jewson Wessex League

Lymington & New Milton 5, Whitchurch United 1

Lymington & New Milton manager Graham Kemp will no doubt be pleased that his side finally found the the antidote to a spell seemingly cast over them this season by Wessex league strugglers Whitchurch. Back in the balmy days of last September, in the reverse of this fixture, the North Hampshire side had frustrated the Linnets' efforts and pulled off a "shock" 1-0 win. Judging from his reaction at the time, Kemp obviously felt that the way his side had played that day was completely unacceptable, but for almost forty-five minutes of this game, Whitchurch seemed likely to achieve an even more notable result.

There were some interesting changes to the Linnets' line-up for this match. Goalkeeper Paul Spillane, who played in the previous couple of matches as a stand-in for the injured Stewart Kearn whilst on loan from Hampshire League side Poole Town, has now made the switch permanent and retained his place for this encounter. On recent evidence, Kearn will have his work cut out to dislodge his replacement. An even more notable omission from the side was Graham Kemp himself, who chose to sit this one out on the sidelines. Darren Mooney took his place, with Ross Drew moving into the midfield 'holding' role.

Irrespective of these changes Whitchurch, whose last league points were gained from a narrow win over bottom club Hamble back at the beginning of December, started the game brightly against an L&NM side that seemed unable to impose their normal tempo and passing rhythm on the opening phase of the match. The visitors defended their goal doggedly and looked to catch their hosts on the break. This they achieved when Ross Dyer unleashed a shot from the edge of the Linnets' penalty area that beat Spillane comprehensively and it took the home side until just before half-time to recover from that shock when Gareth Keeping managed to bundle the ball untidily into the visitor's net after an initial shot from Steve Tate had been saved.

Half-time : L.&N.M. 1, Whitchurch 1

Whatever Graham Kemp might have said at the interval, it clearly had a galvanising effect on his team. Brett Phillips came on for the restart in place of a subdued Liam Green and his experience made a difference from the outset. It took only five minutes of the second half before Phillips found leading scorer Richie Glenister at the far post with a cross from the right and the Linnets' striker headed home.

Almost immediately, the home side made another tactical switch bringing on Liddon in place of Strong although this may have been a 'precautionary' measure, as work commitments mean that the in-form Strong is likely to be absent from the side for a couple of weeks and Liddon is his natural replacement. Fifteen minutes later the two substitutes combined as Phillips put over a cross, this time from the left, which found Paul Liddon on the edge of the Whitchurch area and his well-struck shot found the back of the net.

By now the home side were in full flow and almost completely transformed from the lethargic performance of the first half and with twenty minutes to go they made it four. Once again a substitute was involved as this time Liddon played a through ball to Steve Tate who, despite the attentions of a clutch of Whitchurch defenders, managed to put the ball in the net along with himself and a couple of his pursuers. It was Liddon again who acted as provider for the fifth, five minutes later, when his cross was turned in by Gareth Keeping to complete the scoring..

Afterwards, Graham Kemp said : "We had a disappointing first half and a few harsh words were exchanged at half-time but the second half saw a big improvement. [As far as the league is concerned] I think there are still five teams who will say they are not out it but Andover are the firm favourites because they have got so many games in hand. We have got 15 games to go and I think realistically we need to win most of them but it makes for an exciting finish."

Kemp believes that leading scorer Richie Glenister could be the key man if the Linnets have any title aspirations : "Richard has been fantastic all season especially when you consider he has had to play most of it without Leigh Phillips alongside him. He has taken it upon himself to be our main goalscorer and I have no doubt that he'll be pushing the 30 goal mark by the end of the season. I can't wait until we've got Leigh back because what we will then have is a partnership capable of getting 70 goals a season and that will make a huge difference."

Lymington & New Milton : Spillane, Strong [Liddon 50], Green [B. Phillips 45], Drew, Morris, Mooney [Gazzard 70], Sheppard, Smith, Tate, Glenister, Keeping.

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