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Town win but Street take the plaudits after derby cup win
2:53pm Friday 13th September 2013 in Sport
Andover New Street 0 Andover Town 2.
Hampshire Senior Cup 1st Rd.
It was the first time the two clubs had met and the first time Andover Town had played in the town itself, two reasons bound to attract the interest of the football public, and in the end both were reasonably happy with the outcome of Thursday’s Hampshire Senior Cup tie at Foxcotte Park.
With a mere 120 odd years of history between Andover New Street and Andover Town the home side were in no mood to roll over for the new boys which led to a gutsy performance belying their position at the bottom of the Wessex League.
“For 88 minutes I was proud of my team but we let ourselves down getting caught on the wrong side for the goals and yet again we couldn’t quite reach half-time before conceding” New Street joint boss Matt Styles said after the game. “ We haven’t shown that amount of desire before all season and there were lots of positives to be taken from it.
“Whether they upped their game as they were playing against some mates I don’t know but we showed the crowd what we can do and maybe it can be the start of something.”
With many predicting a big defeat and some even worse, Street were potentially on a hiding to nothing with Town going in with powerful striker Michael Dixon leading the line alongside Claudio Herbert and former New Street winger Oli Yates on either wing but the outcome was anything but that as Street settled first and Adam Battison and Josh Hammett combined well for Dave Cotter to bring a sharp save out of Michael Weatherall in the Town goal. Cameron Hough was high with an effort at the other end before Street came back again and had no luck when a Battison cross shot evaded everyone.
Josh Rees-Long with a drive and Ryan Inskip with a far post header all but found the combination to Street’s lock out and Town thought they had a shout for a spot-kick when Herbert went down under a challenge from Keogh in the box but the appeals didn’t amount to much and from the break Hammett found some pace and room and forced a fine save out of Weatherall.
Dixon was denied by a flying stop from 16-year old keeper Tom Crozier who visibly grew in confidence as the game went on but he could do nothing two minutes from the break when Dixon’s raw strength was too much for the defence and his 18 yard drive flew on for the opener.
Town boss Neil Benson threw on son Lewis just after the restart and he had an effort saved within moments and the change worked as he threaded a ball through to Yates who beat the offside trap and walked in the second just past the hour mark. Town went for the kill with Lloyd Foot and Herbert bringing saves out of Crozier, Street’s fourth choice keeper, but the home side were in no mood to see their hard work go to waste in front of the 200 plus crowd and battled to the end.
Styles was quick to praise young Crozier and explained: “Tom likes playing in his Sunday youth side and doesn’t really like playing Saturday football yet but he is only 16 and with the right coaching he could go a long way as he has the confidence and the presence in the box.”
“Cole Hinchliffe was excellent and Sam Pike and Mark Keogh did a job keeping the wingers as quiet as they could while Lewis Alderman worked very hard, as did the whole side” he added throwing in the not insignificant fact that he has 14 players missing for Saturday’s important league trip to Laverstock and Ford.
“I think tonight showed New Street FC in a good light and on the right road as Andover Town are a good side and there is no reason why we cannot close the gap in the league.”
Styles had added Callum Sweeney to his squad, who has signed having not played Saturday football for a while and he should be available alongside Nick Oliver in the centre of midfield on Saturday.
Meanwhile Neil Benson’s side are without a game on Saturday and have a nine day break before the trip to Fleet Spurs on Saturday week and they also look forward to a visit to Brockenhurst in the next round of the Senior Cup, probably on Wednesday October 9.
Benson had both sons, Lewis and Bradley on the bench alongside Tom Riddell and Tyler Betteridge and admitted that his decision to make five changes from Saturday’s game at New Milton may have surprised those who followed his new side this season “but I am looking to rotate some and my main priority this season has always been the league position.”
“However, any cup win is always welcome and with another clean sheet, which is the bedrock of any success, it keeps our run going. With Brockenhurst next in this, Whitchurch in the North Hants Senior Cup and Team Solent or Sholing in the League Cup there is plenty to go for and many chances for the squad to show what they can do. Lloyd Foot is not even 70 per cent fit yet but was still outstanding and is a class act and he and the defence managed the game well as New Street only really had a couple of real chances despite their graft.”
Benson admitted his side did not show their fluent football on what he described as a ‘difficult surface’ but paid tributes to New Street. “They gave their manager a workmanlike performance and their league position does not show the full story as I believe they have suffered from injuries and availability issues but they have some quality and they will turn that corner.”
Benson now has a nine day break before the Fleet Spurs trip but is looking for a midweek friendly under lights next week and would welcome any club within around a 30 mile radius who fancies a run out to contact him on 07860150075.
New Street go to Laverstock on Saturday, where Matt Styles had a spell a year or so ago and who are managed by former Lion Rae Hughes, before the North Hants Senior Cup tie at Stockbridge next Friday.