Sunday, 16 April 2017

Andover Town 0 v 1 Moneyfields

Saturday 15th April 2017
Wessex League Premier Division
Portway Stadium, Andover
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 144
Match Rating: 3

For my Easter Saturday action, rail engineering works very much facilitated a journey along the Surrey Downs, and I decided upon a second visit of the season to Andover, for another tick in the Wessex League.

The Portway Stadium is about a half hour walk from Andover train station, and it’s out of town location on an industrial estate does not bode well, however it is actually an interesting ground, with decent facilities along with a pleasantly rural feel to the place. With some attractive club signage outside the ground, spectators enter through a turnstile block in one corner. To the rught, between the turnstile and the goal, is a small white stand covering a standing area, while stretching along the length is a two floor brick building housing the changing rooms and the bar, whilst straddling the half way line is a stand which is not easy on the eye, with mainly bench seating inside. Along this length and behind both goals, there is a grass bank down to pitch level, thereby offering spectators a slightly elevated view. Along the remaining length, there is just hard standing. With plenty of trees around to naturally enclose the ground and the surrounding area peaceful and quiet on a weekend, this is a nice place to watch football. The 20 page programme most of the essentials such as results, league tables and introduction of the visiting club, but lacked any welcome message, comments from club officials and other interesting articles.

With just one more game to play after today, there isn’t much left to play for for Andover this season, as they came into this game in 13th place in the 22 team division, with an 11th place finish the best they could hope for. They had won 15 and drawn six of their 40 league games. Moneyfields are having a much more exciting end to their season. Already assured of promotion to the Southern League, they were top of the league and five points clear of second placed Portland United, although Portland have a game in hand compared with Moneyfields' two remaining games, and Moneyfields are likely to have 3 points deducted if their appeal fails for fielding an ineligible player. They have won 30 and drawn five of their 40 games, but have picked up just a point from their last two away games. When the two teams met in October, Moneyfields won 2-0.

On another cool, mostly cloudy afternoon with sunny spells, the visitors dominated this match for long periods and it is fair to say that the Andover goalkeeper was man of the match by a country mile, making several crucial saves. Andover competed well though, looking fairly dangerous on the occasional break and in fact came closest to breaking the deadlock on 36 minutes, when a looping cross from the left wing hit the top of the crossbar.

Into the second half and Moneyfields continued to dominate, but with Andover no longer threatening on the break, and on 68 minutes, a half volley from the edge of the area came backnoff the crossbar. As the clock ticked by, a frustrating goalless draw looked increasingly inevitable, to really hand the initiative to Portland United in the race for the title. But with just four minutes remaining, Moneyfields found a way through. A free kick from wide was launched into the ball, and the ball fell to Steve Hutchings, who drilled it low across the keeper and into the net, to curl wild celebrations amongst the players. They held on for the crucial win which, as things stand, would have sealed the title, but with the likely three point deduction to come, a win at home to Newport (IOW) on the final day will confirm the title to be theirs. After the game, spectators were encouraged to remain pitchside for a few minutes along with the Andover team, to thank various club officials, players, and the manager giving a rousing speech, promising to emulate Moneyfields’ achievement next season.

No comments: