Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Laverstock & Ford v Fleet Spurs

Laverstock & Ford 5 Fleet Spurs 2 (Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1) by John Porter

As ever when Fleet Spurs visit, the weather at The Dell was unpleasant with rain throughout.  Maybe it’s caused by a microclimate in the village of Laverstock; maybe by the annual visit of Fleet; more boringly it’s probably just coincidence.  Despite the result, which the Bulldogs thoroughly deserved, this was a more encouraging performance by Spurs, though they increased the difficulty of what was never going to be an easy task by only being able to field the bare eleven players.

For most of the first half, Fleet held their own, and indeed probably had the better chances in the first half-hour.  Although their defence was generally sounder than of late, they failed to heed the warning that they were giving hotshot Russell Jones far too much room.  He failed to benefit from the first two occasions that he was through on goal, but eight minutes before half-time, he broke clear for the third time. Mark Appleby partially blocked his strong low shot that but the wet ball squirmed under the keeper’s body and crept over the line to give the home side a slightly flattering half-time lead.

Laverstock went straight on the attack after the break and were awarded a penalty in the first few seconds after the referee had deemed that a Fleet defender had fouled a Lavvy forward. Rob Gallagher beat Appleby from the spot to double the lead.  Soon Jones again found himself clear on the left and his low shot went in off the far post. Six minutes later, Adam Nash was at the far post to force home a Dan Bone corner.  Within a minute, the home side went down the far end and James Clifton restored the three-goal margin as he converted a low left-wing cross.  Three minutes later, Bone ended a frantic period of four goals in ten minutes when he ran on to a through ball, outpaced the Laverstock defence and cleverly chipped the ball over keeper Alexis Aguer from just outside the box.  For a few moments, the Spurs supporters began to hope for an improbable comeback, but quarter of an hour from the end their faint hopes were dashed when defender Graham Mankin slid home another cross.  The Bulldogs were now rampant – an intriguing concept to visualise – as Fleet tired, and only generously hospitable finishing and some good saves from Appleby prevented any addition to the score-sheet.

Spurs remain in 16th position in the league.  On Tuesday they welcome Downton (Kennels Lane; kick-off 7.45), and will be hoping for their first victory of 2017, while on Saturday they make the relatively short trip to Tadley Calleva (kick-off 3.00).

Spurs team: Mark Appleby; Mike Bertoux; Adam Nash; Chris Barnes (capt); Rob Colfer; Ryan Alexander; Dan Bone; Tom Slane; Jordan Gibbs; Sam Knowles; Pete Lines