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Alton 1 - 0 Andover Town

Posted: 02.03.20

Match report thanks to John Gorman.

To anyone looking at the League Table before the game, and indeed probably to some watching the game, this was a strange result as the visitors twice came from a goal down before snatching victory at the last after Alton had very much overall dominated the ninety minutes – but it is goals that win matches and the home side simply did not take their chances.

In bright sunshine and a swirling wind Alton wasted an early free kick as a prelude to a long spell of pressure. Liam Knight wriggled his way along the bye line but his cross was missed by all in the six yard box and Totton keeper Oli Eyres did well to hold a low cross from Steve Phillips. As the sunshine gave way to heavy rain Knight reached a ball on the left wing that the defender thought was going out, but Matt Benham was too high from the cross and Eyres then somehow got both hands to a close range header. As is often the case in these situations, having been very much on the back foot the visitors had the first real chance. Joe Southerden broke clear as the home defence failed to deal with a long ball forward but keeper Steve Douglas advanced quickly, got his hand to the shot, and then smothered the follow up. Alton continued to press and when Matt Graham found Luke Perkins in space on the right, the winger cut inside only for his effort from some twenty yards to rebound off the crossbar. With thirty minutes gone the pressure finally bore fruit as Knight’s long cross from the left was headed home from almost under the bar by GEORGE BOWERMAN. The same player nearly had a second but was forced wide by the advancing keeper and had to settle for a corner that came to nothing. Totton suffered two cautions in as many minutes before levelling the scores on the brink of half time. A free kick from the left touchline was headed back across goal from the far post and forced over the line by JOE SOUTHERDEN, leaving all to depart for the half time tea with Alton no doubt wondering how they were not well in front.

Happily the sunshine had re-appeared and after a Knight shot was too high Totton survived a scramble in their goalmouth when Eyres palmed away a cross that he perhaps could have caught before at the other end Harry Burns was only inches too high from distance. Some childish “handbags” in the centre circle then added to the cautions when a word would have surely sufficed. Matt Graham’s cultured left foot sent Knight free on the left but for what seemed the umpteenth time there was nobody in the danger area in the middle only for Alton to then get their act in order so to speak with eighteen minutes on the clock. Graham swung a corner in from the left and the unmarked PHIL MOORE’s header cleared everybody and nestled inside the post. Eyres left his area to deny Bowerman and suddenly it was all square again. There seemed little threat as the ball was worked down the right but the home defence, to a man, simply watched the ball on its way and JOHNNY McAULEY rolled it past the stranded goalkeeper. Both sides used their full quota of substitutes, though it was a surprise to see the ever dangerous Knight replaced for the home side, and Alton nearly got the goal that may well have ended proceedings when the visiting defence gave the ball away and Benham’s snap shot on the turn struck the base of the post. Well in to stoppage time it was then the Alton defence’s turn to give the ball away and Totton made them pay. McAuley made ground down the middle, his shot was blocked and HARRY BURNS fired the loose ball home from fifteen yards to cue delighted blue shirted celebrations.

The final whistle went immediately upon the re-start and Totton and Eling had gained three valuable points from a game that probably should have been out of their reach by halftime, But in fairness they defended stubbornly, never gave up and came very much more in to proceedings in the second half, but their tendency to surround the referee when decisions went against them was something the game could have done without. A good attendance - power to the artificial surface - and an enjoyable afternoon but sadly the usual question – why so many cautions in a game played in good spirit and without a bad challenge in sight.



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