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Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) Review

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Two important games in the Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) on Friday night and one, with respect, unexpected result, Fawley AFC, having beaten one Premier Division side earlier in the week, went one step further with victory over the holders, Sholing, to reach the final of the League Cup for the first time in their history.

Goals from Ben Bolton and Ollie Bradley gave the Oilers a half-time lead and the predictable Sholing onslaught after the break produced just the one goal from Dan Mason as the home side held out for a famous victory and will now face AFC Portchester in the final.

The other game was in Division One with promotion contenders and near rivals Laverstock & Ford and Andover New Street meeting at the Dell.

In a somewhat fractious game it was the visitors who came out on top 4-2 to climb back to second place in the table.

Four matches postponed on Saturday, all in the Premier Division, and fixtures are beginning to pile up for one or two clubs with April on the horizon.

In the games played there were very contrasting fortunes for the two clubs at the top of the Premier Division.

Leaders Andover Town went down to their first home defeat in the league as a very impressive Baffins Milton Rovers scored three times in the first 25 minutes and comfortably maintained that scoreline, despite playing the last 20 minutes or so with ten-men after a rash challenge that was out of keeping with the game.

Second-placed Blackfield & Langley in comparison had one of those days when everything went right as they scored eight without reply at Bemerton Heath Harlequins – a hat-trick for Liam Robinson and doubles also coming from Sam Griffin and Leroy Plummer.

Postponements and the planned fixtures meant that most of the sides in the top six in the table were not in action though Lymington went down 2-1 at home to Shaftesbury.

A good result for the visitors and Lymington have now lost four of their last five.

AFC Portchester were held to a goalless draw at Bournemouth FC, a welcome point for the home side, while the only other Premier Division game played could have affected the end of the table but in the end failed to disturb the status quo.

If Amesbury are to escape relegation the club they have to catch is Cowes Sports but the meeting of the two in Wiltshire ended with six goals and the points being shared.

John McKie scored twice for the Islanders, while Amesbury at least ended a run of six defeats.

In Division One, Christchurch won something of a crunch game with AFC Stoneham with James King scoring twice in their 4-2 victory with Sergio Caballero claiming both goals for the visitors, who are experiencing something of a mini slump at present.

The Hurn Bridge side are now seven points clear, and enjoyed a good attendance as well, but the log-jam behind them in the promotion race shows no sign of easing.

Andover New Street won on Friday and both Romsey and Tadley took all three points in the Saturday matches.

A late Craig Bryant goal gave Romsey victory at New Milton, while Brett Denham scored both Tadley’s goals in their win over Hythe & Dibden. However, US Portsmouth lost ground going down 2-1 at Whitchurch United, for whom new signing Rory Wood scored both goals. A good and welcome win for the North Hampshire side, their first in nine matches.

A welcome win also for East Cowes Vics, who made the long journey to Downton and came out on top by the odd goal in three – a first win in eleven matches.

In the final game Ringwood Town came from behind to beat Alton Town 2-1, another welcome result after a couple of heavy defeats.

So, a weekend when there were some outstanding performances with credit to Andover New Street, Baffins and Blackfield but for Kevin Mitchell and his colleagues and Fawley – may they enjoy their day in the sun.

John Gorman

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