Wessex League Division One
Foxcotte Park, Andover
Match Rating: 3
With engineering works again making a trip to north east Hampshire by train much more convenient than usual, I was eventually swayed to pay a visit to Foxcetts Park by a fellow groundhopper who gave the impression that this would be a very pleasant ground to visit in the summer months. I was not to be disappointed.
Foxcotte Park is about a half hour walk northwards from Andover rail station, through Charlton village and into the countryside, and the football ground is the first part of a sporting complex that one encounters from the main road. Spectators enter via a gap in the wooden perimeter fence and paying at a wooden hut, entering the ground along the length where all of the ground’s facilities are located. Straddling the half way line is the large brick clubhouse, which is spacious, attractive and welcoming inside, and with a covered terrace area outside. The tea bar is also located within this building. Towards the corner flag is an unusual looking stand, offering good elevated views from wooden bench seating inside this converted lorry. Whilst it is not especially beautiful, it is refreshing to come across a neat, unusual, home-made stand constructed to co ply with ground grading rather than just install the stand out of a catalogue. Around the rest of the ground there is just hard standing, and trees tightly line most of the ground, giving the ground a pleasantly green, rural and peaceful feel to it. After encountering two really dismal programmes at my last two games at this level, today’s 20 page programme was a big improvement, with a fairly attractive card cover, welcome messages from the chairman and manager, potted histories of both clubs and league table, amongst other relevant stats.
Neither of today’s sides have made great starts to their league campaigns, with Andover New Street winning one and losing the other three of their opening four league games, conceding 20 goals in the process. US Portsmouth have only played two games, drawing one and losing the other.
On a mainly overcast afternoon, with an oppressively muggy feel and claps of thunder in the build up to the match, this match got off to an explosive start, with the visitors taking the lead within a minute. Frankie Paige crossed to the back post and Connor Duffin headed the ball across the keeper and although he got a good touch on the ball, it found its way over the line. The game settled down into a midfield battle after that, with Andover struggling to create chances and US Portsmouth looking dangerous on the break, and on 37 minutes they broke quickly and Duffin saw his low shot saved by the keeper, and the rebound was headed tamely by Callum Coker. The hosts did come close to an equaliser on 39 minutes, when the keeper saved the ball curled low from a free kick.
Two minutes after the break, the visitors came close to doubling their lead when Duffin struck a powerful low shot when the ball came to him following a corner, but the shot was straight at the keeper. They did score their second on 55 minutes though, when Duffin floated the ball into the area from a free kick on the left wing, and Sean Snelling guided the ball into the net with a faint glancing header. One felt that that probably clinched the three points, as the hosts had looked impotent in attack thus far, and the next goal nearly came from the visitors when Tom Grice struck the ball fiercely from a free kick, forcing a finger tip save. Finally the hosts actually started to look threatening in the last ten minutes, as they created several decent chances and spent much of the time attacking the Portsmouth goal, but it was too little too late as US Portsmouth claimed a well deserved win.