Match Report 2001/2002

Linnets finish in Strong fashion

Saturday 9th February 2002 : Jewson Wessex League

Wimborne Town 2, Lymington & New Milton 2

With Tuesday's League Cup clash between these two sides at Fawcett's Field having been rained off, it was all eyes on the league title race as the contest moved to Cuthbury. A last-gasp equaliser from substitute Steve Strong ensured that Lymington and New Milton gained something from their fierce local derby with arch rivals Wimborne Town as the two in-form sides fought out a 2-2 stalemate. After their previous game, a 3-0 home win against Bournemouth Poppies, Linnets' boss Graham Kemp had suggested that neither of these two sides could afford to lose this game if they were to retain an interest in the title. I suspect that he was speaking metaphorically, rather than literally, because with championship favourites Andover back on the winning trail the only desirable outcome for either side - in terms of points on the board - would be a win.

It was still a good away point for the Linnets however, and player-manager Graham Kemp paid particular praise for his 36-year-old midfield stalwart Jimmy Sheppard. "His appetite for the game at his age is absolutely amazing," said Kemp. "He worked his socks off through the game and when we equalised he was running round like a little kid. He's trying to work out a new deal for next season and you can tell that with the way he's playing because in the last seven games he's played I would probably give him man-of-the-match for six of them."

L&NM were the quickest out of the traps and played some excellent football in the opening half-hour of the match on a heavy pitch due to the recent frequent downpours and after 15 minutes Brett Phillips delivered a left foot cross into the box for Paul Gazzard to side-foot home the opening goal of the game and his first goal for the Linnets this season. Then a misunderstanding in the Wimborne back line led to Richard Glenister being given a glorious chance to double the Linnets lead, but the Magpies were let off the hook as his open goal effort missed the target.

This may have been the spur that the home side needed and shortly before the half hour mark they levelled matters. A through ball from the middle of the park found the feet of Aaron Turner who slotted home past the oncoming Paul Spillane in the Linnets' goal to make it 1-1. Wimborne seized the initiative and began to show the kind of form that has taken them into the top three and on the stroke of half-time they took the lead when Jamie Sturgess was brought down inside the visitors' penalty area and Stacey White converted the resultant spot-kick.

Half-time : Wimborne 2, L.&N.M. 1

Despite the absence of their manager, Alex Pike, the Magpies emerged from the half-time break the better side and Spillane had to make a couple of good saves to keep L&NM's hopes of recovery still alive. But despite their efforts, it looked as though Wimborne were going to pick up all three points until, with virtually the last kick of the game, the Linnets equalised. Steve Strong, who had come on in place of Brett Phillips midway through the second-half, ran down the right flank and when it looked as though he was going to cross the ball he noticed that Geoff Sim in the Wimborne goal was standing slightly off his goal line and slid the ball inside the near post for a dramatic leveller. Prior to that, match official Mark Taylor of Poole had been forced to hand over control to an assistant referee when he had to retire after sustaining a leg injury.

So what was Graham Kemp's view after the match? "I was disappointed to have played so well for the majority of the first half and be 2-1 down at the break. In the second period we huffed and puffed a lot, but didn't really create much and I think in the end a draw was the fair result." In fact, with league leaders Fleet being held by Gosport, Newbury & Thatcham going down to surprise away defeats, the main beneficiaries of the afternoon were Totton, Moneyfields and of course, Andover. Still, there is some way to go yet and with Andover due to play Totton, Moneyfields and Gosport in the next two weeks (not to mention two other matches), there may still be many twists and turns before the outcome of the title race is decided. In the meantime it is back to cup action as the troops reassemble (weather permitting) for the postponed League Cup tie on Tuesday night.

Lymington & New Milton : Spillane, Gazzard [Liddon 75], B. Phillips [Strong 65], Kemp, Morris, Mooney, Sheppard, Smith, Tate, Glenister, Keeping. Unused sub: Morrell.

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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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