Monday, 5 August 2013

Petersfield Town 3 v 1 Hythe and Dibden

Saturday 3rd August 2013
Wessex League Division One
Love Lane, Petersfield
Admission including Programme: £5.00
Attendance: 55
Match Rating: 4

Although I have been fortunate to take in surprisingly entertaining games throughout pre-season this year, an opportunity to get my first competitive game of the season in today was too good to turn down. Only two leagues local to me starting their seasons today - the Combined Counties and Wessex Leagues and on a warm and sunny August afternoon I decided to go and feel the love in leafy eastern Hampshire.

Love Lane is situated about a 15 minute walk from Petersfield rail station and is a very pleasant venue, well maintained with perfectly adequate facilities, plenty of character and a nice rural feel. As one enters the ground in one corner, a large brick building housing the clubhouse and changing rooms stretches almost to the half way line, with a very small wooden stand with a couple of rows of benches inside is situated between the clubhouse and dugouts. The pitch has a pronounced downhill slope to the other side where, straddling the half way line, is a wooden stand with seats placed on benches. The stand has certainly seen better days, but it certainly makes a very welcome change from the usual bland identikit metallic stands mushrooming at this level. Behind this stand, the South Downs are visible in the distance. Hard standing is available around the whole pitch. Trees provide a rural background behind one goal and the clubhouse length, as do small trees planted inside the perimeter fence behind the other goal. Programmes were included with admission, which was fair for a very basic 8 page programme consisting of a short welcome message, last season's results, a potted history of the visiting club, and today's expected line-ups.

Petersfield are fancied to be contenders at the top of the table this season, after finishing last season in sixth place, 16 points adrift of the two promotion places. They suffered a blow in midweek when they lost their top scorer and the second highest scorer in the division last year, Callum Coker. The only was is surely up for Hythe and Dibden, after finishing eight points adrift at the bottom of the table last season.

On a bright, sunny but rather windy afternoon, Petersfield took an early lead on nine minutes when a corner was played short and eventually the ball was floated towards goal and a glancing header by Joe Richardson saw the ball nestle in the far corner. As the half progressed, Petersfield increasingly had the better of the game, and could consider themselves a little unfortunate to only take a one goal lead into half-time.

On 57 minutes, Petersfield doubled their lead. The ball was played neatly along the penalty area, eventually falling at the feet of Mike Asare and after his first shot hit the keeper, he slotted the rebound into the net. A very interesting player was Asare, signed in the close season from Littlehampton Town. Some of his play was an absolute joy to watch, as he set off with electric pace on penetrating runs, scaring the life out of defenders - but the flip side was a lack of discipline in his play, spending too much time moaning at his team mates and showing a lack of interest in switching his mind back on the game if a pass to him went astray or he missed a chance on goal. On 68 minutes, the visitors pulled a goal back with a good goal on his debut. Their forward dribbled in from the right, jinked past a defender who committed himself to the ground, before poking through ball low into the net. Very much game on now, until Petersfield won the game with a third goal on 82 minutes. A good ball down the wing saw the ball crossed into three box, and Robbie Tambling - not long after coming on as sub - evaded a couple of defenders before tapping the ball home from fairly close range. Petersfield really should have added a couple more goals in the remaining minutes, spurning some fabulous chances, but they claimed the three points which they certainly deserved, even though Hythe and Dibden had good spells in both halves and the signs are that they should have a better season this time.

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