Match Report -

Match Report - , by Roger Allen

Alton v Andover Town 26/02/19

Alton 1 Andover Town 4

A highly entertaining ninety minutes with both sides going forward at every opportunity, A report elsewhere suggested that both sides regarded defence as an optional extra – it was not that bad but it did add to the entertainment.

Despite their league position Andover have improved over the last couple of months but too often shoot themselves in the foot by conceding an early goal. This time, despite a rapid start by the home side in which Matt Bunyan saw a clever flick smothered by keeper Dave Tasker on his line and was then just wide after Tasker had mis punched a ball on the edge of (or possibly outside) his area, Andover scored first. Just six minutes gone when Matt Devereaux split the defence with a through ball and George HIGGINS coolly slotted the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.

The visitors kept up the pressure with Powell and Ben Emans having shots saved or blocked, Nic Turpin too high on the turn and Higgins denied a second by keeper Matt Petts’s legs. The first defensive blunder of the evening saw Andover give the ball away in their own area, Liam Knight squared the ball to the far post where Callum Burch somehow contrived to find the side netting rather than the open goal. Petts was then forced to head clear from the edge of his area with Higgins’s attempted lob from distance only inches wide before Alton, through Knight, took play to the other end. The winger saw one effort punched away and a cross evade everybody in a crowded area before Tasker dallied with the ball at his feet but somehow retrieved the situation.

Turpin was inches away from converting an Emans cross before a spell of home pressure bought the equaliser some seven minutes before the break. Bunyan twice won the ball in the air to force two corners and from the second, which was initially blocked, Matt Graham crossed to the far post and the unmarked CORBETT forced the ball home. One more chance before the break, superb control by Higgins, but he was forced wide and from a narrow angle screwed the ball past the far post. HT 1-1

Bunyan’s skill in the air created space for Corbett whose attempted lob bounced on top of the crossbar before, as in the first half, Andover scored after just six minutes. Josh Bertie won the ball on the left and initially there looked to be little danger as he swung a cross to the far side of the area but Ben EMANS had other ideas and his fierce volley simply flew past Petts. Andover kept up the pressure – Alton had minimised their own threat by withdrawing Bunyan in to a midfield role – and in quick succession a Bertie freekick was well saved by Petts at full stretch and the keeper then tipped over a thirty yard thunderbolt from Powell and hung on to Higgins effort at the second attempt.

Andover were not to be denied however and midway through the half Bertie, complete with ball, left the entire right hand side of the Alton defence trailing in his wake with a fair impersonation of Usain Bolt and TURPIN gleefully slotted home the low cross. Bertie’s next run was halted by a challenge from behind and there were no complaints at the penalty decision. Rather harshly – though no doubt in accordance with the Rules – the referee allowed Alton to make an extremely lengthy substitution before Bertie’s kick was well saved by Petts. Surely in such circumstances the penalty should take precedence.

Tasker saved well at close range and Knight somehow scooped the ball over the bar from two yards out as Alton tried to get back in to the game but Bertie was enjoying himself on the left flank and after Higgins was too high from one cross the winger’s next run was halted unfairly on the edge of the area. HIGGINS blasted the free kick in to the top of the net and the referee blew to signal the goal and then blew again to end the game. An enjoyable game to watch and played in excellent spirit and well refereed – it can be done. Andover left the field to the applause of their travelling faithful and climb off the bottom of the table while Alton will be looking to get their season back on track. FT 1-4 (John Gorman)

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