Monday, 22 August 2016

Fleet Spurs 2 v 1 Alton

Saturday 20th August 2016
Wessex League Division One
Kennels Lane, Farnborough
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 33
Match Rating: 3

After none of the FA Cup matches on offer today were sufficiently tempting, rail engineering works actually made a trip to north east Hampshire more straightforward than usual for me. A local derby was on offer, as was a visit to a ground that is worth visiting during the brighter, longer days of summer.

Kennels Lane is about a half hour walk eastwards from Fleet train station, through the pleasant Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, and is situated in a rural location, apart from large BMW office buildings located behind one goal. Although the ground is fully enclosed, it is only by see through wire fencing, so that it would be easy to watch matches for free from outside if one is so inclined. Spectators enter the ground via a turnstile next to a fairly attractive brick building which houses all of the facilities available here. The clubhouse is small but bright, which is basically a tea bar which also serves cans of alcohol. In one corner there is a neat and tidy “gift shop” area. Built into the front of the building are two separate areas of covered seating, but this is set some way back from the pitch. Around the rest of the ground there is just hard standing, which is becoming rather overgrown with grass along the far length in particular. With trees all around the ground, a peaceful setting and some neat and attractive signage around the ground, it’s generally an attractive and well cared-for, if very modest, venue. The programme looked very impressive on the outside, but delivered very little – just a page each devoted to the history of both clubs, predicted team line-ups, but no fixture or time specific welcome message nor any fixture information.

Fleet Spurs have opened their league season with two away defeats, scoring five and conceding seven in the process. Alton have played four games so far, picking up a win and two draws from their three home games, losing their only away game so far. Last season, Alton Town finished in seventh place and Fleet Spurs in twelfth, but in April, Alton won last season’s fixture 3-7 at Kennels Lane, with Fleet winning 0-2 at Alton last November.

On what was anything but a typical August afternoon, with mainly dark skies, strong winds and squally showers, the visitors got off to a great start, taking the lead with just three minutes on the clock. After some good feet to create space in the outer corner of the area, the ball was passed low across to Declan Shuttleworth in a more central position, and he slotted the ball home with a simple finish. They almost doubled their lead on 11 minutes when a ball over the defence sent two Alton forwards through in goal, and one of them lobbed the keeper but saw the ball drop wide of the goal. That was to prove a costly miss as within a minute Fleet Spurs drew level. A lovely first time touch of the ball sent the forward clear of a defender, and he then shot the ball past the keeper. The home side then took the lead on 39 minutes when the ball from a corner fell at the back post and was headed home. On 42 minutes, Alton had a shot blocked, and they went into half time a goal down.

Into the second half and despite plenty of huff and puff, Alton rarely looked likely to get back on level terms, perhaps their best chance coming on 80 minutes when a diagonal cross into the box was met with a glancing header, forcing a flying catch by the keeper. Three minutes later and Fleet had their best chance of the half when the ball was hacked away from the goal line. But the two goals they had already scored proved enough to claim the win.

Despite a strong start to the match by the visitors - 10 minutes in, they looked most likely to go on to claim a convincing victory - Fleet came back strongly and once they took the lead, they always looked like they would comfortably hang on to their slender lead to claim their first win of the season.

No comments: