Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Christchurch v Fleet Spurs

Christchurch 4 Fleet Spurs 2 (Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1) by John Porter

It was a pleasant, sunlit spring afternoon, with a cool easterly wind from time to time, as Fleet visited Christchurch.  The afternoon was thoroughly enjoyable for the spectators and as ever, the welcome from the home club’s officials was warm.  The game itself was competitive and exciting, particularly in the second half.  Church deserved their hard-fought win, though Spurs gave them a heck of a fright after the break, and the sporting Christchurch officials were the first to say that a two-goal margin flattered them a little.

Christchurch started the stronger but both sides were having trouble reading the wind, with high balls causing problems for the opposing defences, but Fleet held out though man of the match Will Gage cracked a powerful drive against the far post with Mark Appleby beaten. Then midway through the half the referee deemed that a tackle in the box by Victor Mudonhi on Luke Stone was a foul.  Marcus Cullen hit his spot kick too close to Appleby, who made a good save and was able to stop the rebound too but five minutes later Christchurch took a well-deserved lead.  Gage’s cross from the right wing was allowed to pass across the face of the goal to Sam Thompson with no Spurs defender able to clear and Andy Masson drove the ball high into the net from the resulting low ball.  Although Church were the better side, they hadn’t had everything their own way, and only a fine double save from keeper Max Frampton presented Chris Rose and then Dan Bone getting Fleet back on even terms.  The home keeper foiled another goal-bound attempt from Bone standing firm to save a powerful drive at his near post.  To rub salt in Spurs’ wounds, three minutes before the break another cross by Thompson led to a goal, this time from Gage, who volleyed in at the near post.  A score of 2-0 at half-time perhaps slightly flattered Christchurch.

The second half started more evenly, with Spurs snapping quickly into the tackle and winning their share of 50/50 balls.  They created a number of good chances, but were unable to take any, until in the 59th minute Bone reduced the arrears with a goal that was a triumph of persistence and determination.  The odds were against him when he received the ball, but he used his strength to force his way past a couple of Church defenders and slip the ball into the corner of the net.  Twelve minutes later, the home defence failed to clear a right-wing corner and Bone smashed the ball high into the net to equalise.  This appeared to sting Christchurch into action and they began to dominate the play.  It was Appleby’s turn to excel between the sticks as he was forced to make a number of first-class saves.  However, Fleet were not downhearted and continued to create problems for Church on the break.  Both sides were going all out for victory, and as the game drew to a close another goal always seemed likely with either side looking capable of gaining all three points.  Ironically, the home side’s goal in the 89th minute came from a right-wing corner by the visitors.  A quick clearance put Stone clear on the right and he slipped the ball past Appleby.  The jubilant reaction from the Christchurch bench showed just how much a victory meant to them.  Spurs now had no option but to attack, and in the fourth minute of stoppage time sub Elliott Goward caught them on the break to score.

Spurs remain in 16th position in the league.  On Wednesday, they have what should be their last midweek game of the season when they entertain Romsey Town (kick-off 7.45), weather Acts of God etc. permitting.  On Saturday they are again at home when their opponents will be Totton & Eling (kick-off 3.00).

Spurs team: Mark Appleby; Chris Barnes; Adam Nash; Rob Colfer; Victor Mudonhi; Pete Lines; Dan Bone; Mike Bertoux; Jamil Olweny (capt);Tom Chillery; Chris Rose