Sunday, 29 November 2015

AFC Stoneham 0 v 2 Ringwood Town

Saturday 28st November 2015
Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh
Wessex League Cup Second Round
Admission including Programme: £5.00
Attendance: 50 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

Following my lunchtime game at Eastleigh, I embarked on the 20 minute walk north westwards to visit the other senior football club in the town.

Attractive club signage is placed on Chestnut Avenue, inviting spectators down an unlit track to reach the ground. They enter to the side of a brick building housing the changing rooms, and then there is a short walk along a paved path to the pitch. All of the facilities are along one length, with a hut housing the tea bar and a utility room, and then there is a wooden stand covering bench seating. It has the air of being unfinished, in plain wood, but it is infinitely more preferable to the modern identikit stands at this level these days. Behind both goals there are practice pitches, with hard standing only available along the touchline closest to the changing rooms. Along the remaining length there is no hard standing and is closely lined by tall netting offering protection from the golf driving range next door. It’s a pleasant, rural ground where it is pleasing to see much effort being made to make the ground fit for Wessex football. But special mention must be made of the excellent 16 page programme, which is superbly designed, very easy on the eye, contains some interesting articles and plenty of useful stats and facts.

Both of today’s teams play in the second tier of the Wessex League. In their first season back in the Wessex League, AFC Stoneham were in 14th place in the 18 team division, having won three and drawn two of their 12 league games. Ringwood are in the hunt for promotion, in fourth place, with six win and two draws from their 12 league games. Today’s teams had already met here in the league this season, with Ringwood winning 1-2 away in late August.

With the weather gloomy and a strong wind having developed, the visitors started the stronger, although it was Stoneham who came closest first, with a shot from the edge of the area tipped over by the keeper. The home side then went on to dominate much of the first half - on 11 minutes, a perfectly judged aerial ball from deep into the box was headed goalwards, forcing a good save by the keeper and the rebound was hacked away. On 36 minutes, Stoneham thought they had scored when the ball was headed in from a curling free kick, but the goal was ruled out for a push. Ringwood had their moments too, but the scores remained level at the break.

Ringwood were to assume the ascendancy in the second half and took the lead on 50 minutes when a good run to the byline ended with a low shot to the near post, and the ball was tucked home low from 8 yards. Six minutes later and they added a second. A long punt forward by the Ringwood keeper resulted in the Stoneham keeper racing to the edge of his box to claim the ball but the Ringwood forward got to the ball first to head the ball goalwards and it went in despite a defender desperately trying to race back to clear. Ringwood saw out the rest of the game fairly comfortably, as the home players seemed to grow increasingly frustrated and disillusioned, and so it was Ringwood who progressed to the next round where they will face Premier Division opposition away at either Whitchurch United or Newport Isle of Wight.

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