Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Fleet Spurs v Shaftesbury

Fleet Spurs 6 Shaftesbury 4 (Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1) by John Porter

What a game!  Spurs were twice ahead by four goals, but Shaftesbury made a spirited recovery that, sadly for them, wasn’t quite enough to gain them a point.  After the match, the visitors’ generous officials congratulated Fleet on a well-deserved win but it was a damn close-run thing, as the Duke of Wellington nearly said after Waterloo.

Spurs for once got off to a lively start, and by the eighth minute were two goals ahead.  First Sam Knowles collected a good cross-field ball from Tom Slane and hammered the ball past the helpless Dan Card in the Rockies’ goal.  Two minutes later, Chris Rose beat a couple of Shaftesbury players in the centre circle and played a well-judged through ball to Dan Bone, who ran on to it, out-muscled and outpaced the defence and slipped the ball past Card with the keeper again having no chance of stopping it.  Ten minutes later came a moment of controversy when Mark Appleby handled the ball outside the box, and the referee showed the keeper a yellow, rather than red, card as there were four Spurs defenders behind Appleby – including one on the goal-line and another on the edge of the six-yard box – so he had not prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Spurs’ supporters could scarcely believe the 2-0 score-line, and an Under 8 type scramble in their penalty area may have portended what was to come.  However, the Fleet defence kept their goal intact and Spurs immediately broke away allowing Bone to cut in from the right and drive the ball low and hard just inside the far post.  The home fans’ incredulity only increased as Knowles scored clinically in the 24th minute to make the home side’s lead four.  Next minute, the visitors reduced the arrears when Appleby was only able to parry a shot and striker Mark Ford headed the ball into an empty net.  That meant there had been three goals in three minutes, and there were more to come before the break.  First Rose ran on to a header from Bone to restore the four-goal margin.  This was very soon reduced to three as Ford got his second with a low left-foot shot after the home defence had failed to clear a cross from the left.  5-2 for Spurs at half-time – as unlikely as a Trump victory had seemed only eleven days before.

At half-time it was generally agreed by supporters of both sides that the game was nowhere near over, and that the final score could finish up as anything.  10-9 for one side or the other was one fan’s tongue-in-cheek prediction. Shaftesbury’s players were clearly of a like mind, as they came out with real intent and began to dominate the game.  Only five minutes after the break, Appleby made the save of the match as he dived to his right to turn a goal bound effort from Ford round the post.  Soon, however, Ford completed his hat-trick as he slipped the ball past Appleby and into the corner of the net after a good Rockies move down the right.  Midway through the half, there was only one goal in it as Ford hit an unstoppable penalty past Appleby after Adam Nash was judged to have fouled visiting skipper Lee Gale in the box.  With twenty minutes of normal time to go, Shaftesbury were now rampant and only resolute defence by Fleet, a number of good saves from Appleby, and some luck kept the home side ahead.  Both sides were now tiring and the pressure from the Rockies eased slightly.  Spurs had had some opportunities on the break, which they were unable to convert, and as the game entered stoppage time it looked as if they would hold out.  So they did, and in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Bone broke away from well inside his own half, passed to Knowles, who unselfishly returned the compliment enabling him to complete his hat-trick from close range.  This proved to be the last action of a breathless game.

It was good to welcome Shaftesbury to Kennels Lane again after a break of over six years, and both sides contributed fully to an exceptionally entertaining game.

Spurs are now up to 13th place in the league and their next two games are against teams that are in the same group just below halfway.  Firstthey entertain Romsey Town on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45 pm).  Then on Saturday they visit Ringwood Town (kick-off 3.00).

Spurs team: Mark Appleby; Sam Lynham; Adam Nash; Rob Colfer; Victor Mudonhi; Tom Slane; Dan Bone; Michael Bertoux; Jamil Olweny (capt); Sam Knowles; Chris Rose (sub Chris Barnes 81)