Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Shaftesbury v Fleet Spurs

Shaftesbury 7 Fleet Spurs 1 (Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1) by John Porter

The drive to Dorset through the beautiful Wessex (or should that be Sydenhams?) countryside on a fine, warm day was lovely and you may think that writing this travelogue guff is a way of avoiding the fact that the game was poor.  That’s only partly true.  Shaftesbury were very good; Spurs weren’t.  As has happened so often this season, Fleet had the bare eleven players, not all of whom were fully fit.  They were also missing five regular starters.  The welcome from the home club officials was warm & friendly, but their players made it a long, hard afternoon for the visitors.

Before the game, both sides made a guard of honour for Shaftesbury’s retiring and long-serving – 30 years – secretary Phil Tobin.

The game started as it was to continue with incessant pressure from the home side, who had half a dozen decent goal chances in the first ten minutes.  They were helped by Fleet’s obliging play, as they kept giving the ball back.  After quarter of an hour, skipper Lee Gale opened the scoring with a low shot from close range and on the half-hour mark Dan Finnigan headed home a left-wing corner to double the score.  Five minutes before the break, Gale added a third, easily side-stepping two Spurs defenders and driving the ball low past Mark Appleby.  A half-time score of 3-0 by no means flattered the Dorset team.

After the break, the game continued in the same vein as Shaftesbury took the game way beyond Fleet with three more goals from Finnigan and one from sub Jack Mitchell.  The only bright spot for Spurs came when chairman Bryan Sheppard remarked that he thought that Fleet looked as if they might score.  No sooner said than done, as Sam Knowles headed a right-wing corner off the underside of the bar and into the net.  Mystic Bryan tried the same tactic a few more times, but sadly for Spurs it didn’t work again and the final score was a fair reflection of the play.

Congratulations to Shaftesbury, who will be playing at their highest level ever in the pyramid next season, following back-to-back promotions starting from the Dorset Premier League.

As for Spurs, this was a very disappointing season.  After 20 games, they were in a solid middle-of-the-table position, with 26 points.  In the last 20 games, they only gained 10 points and suffered many heavy defeats, some to sides lower in the table than them.  There was no obvious single reason for this decline; most of the players who played up until Christmas are still available, though there have been a couple of significant injuries.  However, the club has rarely been able to field a settled team, and usually have had one substitute at most (none at Shaftesbury).  All this seems to have led to a lack of confidence, which in turn has produced bad results.  We can only hope for better things next season.

Spurs team: Mark Appleby; Adam Bond; Kieran Martinez; Robin Bidlake; Victor Mudonhi; Sam Knowles; Dan Bone; Chris Barnes; Jamil Olweny (capt); Pete Lines; Jack Moore