Match Report -

Match Report - , by Roger Allen

Verwood Town v Andover Town 09/03/19

Verwood Town 1 Andover Town 0

ON a rather cold and cheerless day weather-wise this game did little to warm the cockles of the heart (or anything else) and the only goal scored came on the verge of second half stoppage time. It was five past three when the game kicked off – at the appointed time of 3.00 there was no sight of teams or officials – and this rather set the tone for the afternoon.

The home side were quickly in to their stride with Nathan Gray bursting in to the box where he appeared to be knocked over by a defender but found the free kick rather inexplicably given against him. Dave Tasker in the visiting goal saved from Charlie Heggan and Ollie Davies, the latter having been allowed to run on from a starting position that looked well offside. Andover’s Josh Bertie saw a shot pushed away with Gary Thorne, unmarked at the far post, missing out from the resulting corner.

Charlie Gajic, now playing at the back in something of a “poacher turned gamekeeper” role, was too high from a corner at the other end and when Gray did round Tasker his shot was cleared off the line. The home side were enjoying a huge percentage of the possession and after Heggan had been rightly booked for an unpleasant challenge Gray again found space, as he did for most of the afternoon, and forced a fine save from Tasker. The visitors then made rather a mess of a short goal kick and were rescued by Tasker denying Heggan, Gray was halted in the area by a well-timed challenge from Thorne before the referee, who could have been closer to play on occasions, gave a free kick to Verwood on the edge of the area after two players had gone down in a heap. It looked no more than a collision but if it was a foul it was a penalty – it was at least two yards inside the box. The free kick saw the closest to a goal so far – and it probably should have been a goal – as Tasker beat away the shot and Joe Kimber, faced with a yawning goal, smashed the loose ball against the crossbar.

Andover were awarded a free kick in a similar position at the other end but George Higgins’s effort was straight at keeper Chris Lynch before the last attack of the half saw Lynch tip a Mark Keogh header over the bar and Verwood must have headed to the dressing room wondering as to how the scores were still level. HT 0-0

Gray was quickly back in the action on the re-start with Tasker holding a dangerous cross and a scramble in the visiting area saw two shots blocked by brave defending. Andover were constantly forced back meaning their front two received little support and were largely isolated. Nic Turpin, who often had been fighting a lone battle, gave way to Shaquille Gwengwe and Andover slowly began to find their way forward a little more frequently. Ben Emans buried a shot in Lynch’s midriff and Gwengwe was halted by a superb tackle by Ben Kelly before Verwood were rather harshly reduced to ten men. Heggan had deserved his earlier caution but this time seemed very unlucky as his foot did not seem over high, and certainly not causing any danger, when he contested a bouncing ball but the referee thought otherwise and off he went.

The game was now rather aimless and seemingly drifting to what would have been the writer’s first goalless draw in some fifty or so matches this season before Gray received some reward for his ninety minutes of persistence. The clock was ticking in to stoppage time when the blue shirted defence failed to deal with a bouncing ball and GRAY lifted it over Tasker and in to the net to give his side the three points which they certainly deserved on the balance of play overall.

First visit to Verwood for a couple of seasons and the usual warm and friendly welcome, though the game will not live in the memory for long, and credit to both Clubs for having clearly numbered shirts – not always the case by any means. FT 1-0