29 Jan 2024
Match report by Dave Hawtin
Honours even on Saturday afternoon at the impressive SB Stadium, Sandhurst
The visitors were fastest out of the blocks confidently moving the ball around the pitch and only some alert defending and on one particular occasion a crucial block from a retreating centre half, when Jamie Hoppitt was freed in the penalty area, stopped them from taking the lead.
The home side grew into the game and gained parity in territory and started to threaten themselves. On 15 minutes they took the lead when they forced the ball home from a corner, a little against the run of play.
They then kept the visitors on their toes for the next 15 minutes crucially without really threatening to increase the lead.
A real game developed with both sides playing good football on the slick artificial surface.
The equaliser came on 42 minutes. Perry Coles delivered a free kick into the box and Adam Brice cleverly used the pace on the cross to flick the ball into the far corner of the net giving the giant home keeper no chance. All square at the break.
The Alton management made a subtle change to the shape of the side and were very clearly on top from the start of the second half. Owen Tanner combined well with Owen Lumsden down the right and shot just wide of the post as Alton dominated proceedings.
Next in was Perry Coles who broke into the box on the left hand side and drove a shot just across the face of goal and just past the far post.
Numerous corners were conceded as the home side dug in whilst still maintaining a threat on the break.Coles
With around 15 minutes to go the pendulum swung again. Adam Brice headed into the net from another corner but whilst the players and visiting supporters celebrated the referee had awarded a free kick in the crowded box for pushing. General consensus was that he saw something that very few others present noticed.
Alton were now well on top but their dominance and advantage was set back when Jamie Phillips was sin binned for comments he made to the referee following the decision.
Down to 10 men for the most of the rest of the game, Alton continued to push forward but were relieved when Sandhurst managed to exploit the space now available down their left, Lewis Mees in the Alton goal was ever alert to the danger and made an excellent decision to sprint out and make a sliding challenge to clear the ball away.
This was a really good game, nothing to spilt the sides at the break but the visitors were dominant throughout the second half and will rue the decision to disallow the second Brice header and the numbers disadvantage when so on top and the home side hanging on.
Alton travel to AFC Portchester on Saturday in the Servio Hampshire Senior Cup Quarter Final, before returning home next Tuesday 6th February for the League Cup 3rd Round, when Bedfont Sports will be the visitors to The Exclusive Networks Stadium. Kick off 7.45pm.