Sunday, 5 February 2017

Blackfield & Langley 2 v 1 Andover Town

Saturday 4h February 2017
Wessex League Premier Division
Gang Warily, Fawley
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 74
Match Rating: 3

Although I had coach tickets to go to Birmingham today, rail replacement works getting to London made that a rather less palatable prospect than I originally thought, and I decided to write off the 50p that they had cost and instead headed to Southampton. Heavy rain in recent days meant an uncertain destination as I headed west, and two of my shortlisted games, at Hythe & Dibden and at Romsey Town, were postponed as I headed westwards. However, Blackfield & Langley tweeted that their pitch passed an inspection.

Gang Warily is located about a 40 minute bus journey from Southampton Central train station, and the football ground is part of a neat leisure complex, with several 3G pitch cages and playing fields outside as well as indoor facilities in the main building. The sports bar is located on the bottom floor of this building, in a rather small and claustrophobic room. Spectators pass along a path from the main building and pass through a pre-fab turnstile block, before entering the football ground behind one of the goals. The ground is neat and tidy, with a reasonably sized stand straddling the half way line, with 5 rows of wooden bench seating. A grass bank with a hedge on top stretches along the length, and towards the entrance corner is a green portakabin, with one half housing a hospitality area, whilst the other is a tea bar. Directly opposite is a covered standing area, and along this length is neat wooden fencing. Behind the goal opposite the clubhouse is an open area with trees a little further back, and some of Fawley’s famous chimneys rising high in the background. There is a disappointing lack of club signage, both outside and inside the ground, although quite a nice touch is the letter of the club stretching along the pitchside boards from corner to corner at both ends. The 32 page programme was well presented and covered all of the essentials to preview the match

Blackfield & Langley are usually there or thereabouts at the top of the Wessex League, as this season is proving no exception, as they came into this match in second place, following 18 wins and three draws from their 28 league games, but are 10 points adrift of leaders Moneyfields albeit with a game in hand. Andover Town were in 12 the place in the 22 team division, after 10 wins and five draws from 27 league games. When the two teams met in the reverse league fixture back in September, Blackfield & Langley won 1-3.

On a beautifully sunny afternoon, the first half was a real surprise, as the visitors took the initiative, did most of the attacking and it was they who looked the high flying team. After creating several good chances, the visitors did take the lead on 31 minutes when the ball was pulled back to Zach Glasspool, who struck the ball powerfully across the keeper and into the net. They continued in the ascendancy for the remainder of the half and well deserved their lead at the break.

The home side certainly upped their game after the break, but still Andover looked comfortable enough, apart from a six minute spell which won the game for the home side. On 58 minutes, after two forward got in the way of each of tapping a low cross into the net, Jamie White curled a low shot past the keeper’s dive and into the net, and then on 64 minutes, ex Andover player Harrison Faye, 25 yards out and with nothing else on, had a dip at goal and the ball went over the keeper and into the net – a very good goal. Andover did manage to create a couple of good chances to equalise, forcing some smart saves from the keeper, but the home side held on for what was a rather fortunate win, much needed in their chase for top spot, whilst Andover could consider themselves unfortunate to go home with nothing but a good performance to show for their efforts.

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