Sunday, 16 October 2016

Laverstock & Ford 2 v 1 Romsey Town

Saturday 15th October 2016
Wessex League Premier Division
The Dell, Salisbury
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 68
Match Rating: 3

With rail engineering works favouring a journey into northern Hampshire and beyond today, I decided to return to Wiltshire, a week after visiting two grounds in the county for the second half of the Western League groundhop.

The Dell is about a 35 minute walk eastwards from Salisbury train station (frustratingly, trains run close by the ground on its approach to Salisbury), in the village of Laverstock, and is located down a short lane just beyond the spacious and very comfortable Sports Club clubhouse and before a car park. Spectators enter the ground via a narrow doorway in one corner of the ground, and this is where almost all of the spectator facilities are located. Either side of the corner flag there are two small identikit all-seater metal stands, whilst adjacent to the one moving towards the goal is a more improvised small covered standing area held up with scaffolding. Around the rest of the pitch there is just hard standing. The tea bar is located immediately behind the dugout, which prevents spectators from passing to the other side. Wooden fencing lines two sides of the ground, whilst behind the other length is open towards the club’s other pitches. Hills behind both goals offer an attractive countryside background, and this is indeed a pleasantly peaceful, rural location. Salisbury Cathedral's spire is just about visible in the distance behind the dugouts. The 16 page black and white programme provided the important stats and facts to preview the match.

Laverstock & Ford are going great guns so far this season, with 11 wins from 12 league games and were in second place, only because leaders Hamble Club have played and won a game more. Romsey Town have had a reasonable start to their campaign, winning six and drawing one of their 11 league games. These two teams had already met here this season, in the League Cup last month, with Laverstock & Ford making home advantage count 2-1.

On what was a dry and occasionally sunny afternoon during the first half, this was very even during the first 45 minutes, if anything the visitors had slightly the better of things, and they took the lead on 18 minutes. After a succession of corners, a weak shot goal was blocked, and Kieran Hancock fired the loose ball home. There lead was to last just five minutes though, and they would be very disappointed to have conceded it, being a long punt downfield by the keeper, Russell Jones ran onto the ball and struggled to break clear of the covering defender but did manage to get a shot on goal which looped in with the aid of a deflection. They twice came close to taking the lead, once when the keeper was way out of his goal and saw a shot head towards the empty net but he just just managed to scramble back and hack the ball away from the goal line. Romsey also had a couple of chances to retake the lead, but the scores were level at the break.

Increasingly heavy rain greeted the second half, and this made conditions increasingly tricky for the players as some struggled to keep their feet. But the game remained entertaining, a good battle between two evenly matched teams who continued to create chances. Romsey had the best chance of all to score, when they were awarded a penalty when their onrushing striker was upended in the box, but the keeper pulled off a good save to his bottom left. That was to prove very costly when the home side took the lead just a couple of minutes from the end, when a corner was met with a glancing header by Graham Mankin, and the ball went in off the far post.

Laverstock and Ford probably shaded the second half, and the Romsey keeper made some very good saves to keep his team in it, but a point apiece would probably have been a fairer result today.

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