Sunday, 6 August 2017

Romsey Town 1 v 1 Hythe & Dibden

Saturday 5th August 2017
Wessex League Division One
Bypass Ground, Romsey
Admission: £5.00
Programme: None
Attendance: 75
Match Rating: 3

I had every intention of taking in an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round fixture today, a date I very much look forward to each season, and so today I set off by train along the south coast heading for Lymington Town's tie at New Milton Town’s home ground. However, after my train from Brighton to Southampton was disrupted meaning that I would miss my connection, I was left with the choice of continuing to New Milton, arriving just as the game would be kicking-off, at best, or rerouting to the north of Southampton with a visit to Romsey for a Wessex League fixture. I chose the latter, and even though the train to Romsey was delayed too, I managed to arrive about ten minutes before kick off.

The Bypass Ground is about a ten minute walk south from Romsey train station, and as the ground name suggests, is situated next to a busy road. Club signage and a fixture board welcomes visitors from the main road, and the admission fee is handed over at a smart wooden turnstile block. Visitors then find themselves in one corner of the ground and in front of the clubhouse, which is rather bland inside and has the customary Wessex League team line-ups board outside. To the side of the clubhouse is a small hut offering refreshments. Along the length by the entrance there is a small area of cover which has quite nice appearance on the outside, but has plenty of junk inside. Spectators then need to negotiate stepping over a large pile of sand, before passing by the dugouts, with hard standing beyond and to the far corner flag, with an overgrown and rather unkempt area between the hard standing and perimeter fence. There is hard standing behind the far goal, with cover over the middle third. Straddling the half way line on the other length is a small stand with wooden top seating in rows inside. There is just hard standing around the rest of the ground. Tall trees around most of the ground makes for a pleasant background, and the ground is one that was clearly smartened up with some nice touches a year or two ago, but is currently looking rather scruffy. No programme was produced today, and the well-used in the Wessex League “printers let us down” line used by the gateman was unconvincing.

Both clubs will be looking for improvement this season, after Romsey finished in 13th place and Hythe and Dibden in 18th place in the 21 team division last season. This would be both clubs' opening fixture of this season.

On a mainly warm and sunny, but breezy afternoon, this was a competitive game with some mistimed tackles prompting some niggle at times, and both teams managed to create goalscoring chances. On 26 minutes a poor touch by a Romsey defender by the right edge of the area allowed the Hythe forward to run towards goal with the ball, only to be pulled down for a clear penalty. Luke Watts sent the keeper the wrong way by shooting into the right side of the goal to give the visitors the lead. Their lead would only last six minutes though as a free kick from well outside the area found its way through a crowded penalty area and into the net, with the goal credited to Wayne Boud. 1-1 was how the scoreline remained at half time, with Romsey probably slightly the better side.

They came out of the blocks quickly after the break too, within a minute a header from a deep cross forced a good finger tip save from the keeper, and on 49 minutes later, a low cross deep inside the penalty area resulted in a Hythe defender awkwardly deflecting the ball just over his own bar. On the hour mark, Hythe came close to regaining the lead, when an excellent cross on the gallop down the left wing resulted in a firm far post header which grazed the top of the bar. Romsey had one more good chance on 78 minute when a whipped in cross was not cleanly met by the striker and the ball drifted wide. But in the end, the points were shared, probably a fair result following a match which could have gone either way.

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