Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Team Solent v Brockenhurst

HONOURS EVEN IN THE RAIN

This was the second meeting in barely a month between the two sides at Test Park with the visitors no doubt still aware of how close they came to winning the earlier League Cup Fixture before being denied by a very late goal.

After the presentation of the Club of the Month Award to the home side, and an impeccably observed one minute’s silence for former League Match Official Andy Dine, the match got off to a bright start with Solent making all the early running. Jesse Waller Lassen saw a shot charged down and a low cross from Lewis Pitts went untouched by friend or foe as it whistled through the six yard area. Speechley Price was just wide from a quick Brockenhurst break before the visitors had to defend a free kick given away in rather bizarre fashion. A Solent player was rightly deemed offside but the referee shouted for play to continue as the ball went through to goalkeeper Callum Mayer. The keeper rolled it to a defender who picked the ball up to take the free kick that had not been awarded and was promptly penalised for handball. The defensive wall did its job before Jim Orvis saw a shot blocked and Tyrell Mitford was too high with one effort and a second was straight at Maher as Solent kept up the pressure. The visitors, despite enjoying a lesser share of the possession, were dangerous on the break with Mark Barker being denied by goalkeeper Bradley Banda’s legs. Waller Lassen limped off to be replaced by Mike Lamb, and Pitts was caught offside to stop another promising move and two Solent corners in quick succession came to nothing before Maher clung on to a fierce drive from Orvis. Another Brockenhurst break saw Joe Chamberlain wide with a brave header – the defender was hurt in the effort and substituted – and the half ended with Solent spurning two useful chances. Mitford slid the ball wide of both keeper and post after a smart three man move had created the opening and Ryan Dacres- Smith beat the offside trap on the left flank but the cross failed to beat the first defender.

As the second half started the rain, which to that point had been no more than a drizzle, became markedly heavier and remained so for the rest of the game. A Mitford cross went across the face of the goal and a shot by the same player from distance was too high before the ever willing Ryan Long took play to the other end only to be stopped by weight of numbers. Play was now rather confined to the central third of the pitch with no real threat on either goal though Maher had to leave his areal to deny Mitford and a saving tackle by Ronan Moore – a rock throughout in the visiting defence  – saved his side after the ball was carelessly given away on the edge of the area. A snapshot on the turn by Mitford shaved the angle of post and bar before the visitors missed the best chance of the game thus far midway through the second half. Barker found himself in acres of space –the home defence was nowhere and there was no flag – but his first efforts truck Banda’s legs and the keeper was swiftly back on his feet to block the follow-up. The keeper then punched away a corner in an extremely crowded area and at the other end Maher turned a Mitford pile driver round the post after Dacres-Smith had created the opening. Still neither side could find the opening  needed, despite calling on the full quota of substitutes, with the visiting defence surviving a goalmouth scramble caused  by a shrewd Dacres-Smith cross and Barker chasing a Ryan Long through ball and at full stretch toeing it past Banda and the outside of the post. Maher produced another good save at close range before the deadlock was broken as the game moved into its final ten minutes. A corner from the right was only partially cleared and player manager James Taylor, one of the substitutes, rolled the ball into Mitford’s path and the shot flew through the crowded area into the corner of the net. But unlike the last meeting the twist in the tail this time came from Brockenhurst with a goal very similar to the one just conceded. The hard working Ryan Long won a corner on the right, the ball was only cleared to the edge of the area and Jude Nwachurwu crashed an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net. Neither side could add to the score in the three minutes remaining so the spoils were shared in a game played in exceptional spirit and well refereed – not a yellow card in sight all afternoon

Team Solent may feel that their overall possession deserved more but the cutting edge was missing on the day, whilst Brockenhurst defended superbly throughout though perhaps could have afforded the ever dangerous Ryan Long more support up front.