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First minute penalty not enough as Town go down
Pewsey Vale 4 Andover Town 1.
Andover Town stay top of the Wessex League Division One despite a day they would rather forget at Pewsey Vale this afternoon, losing 4-1 after taking the lead inside the first minute from the penalty spot.
Team Solent and Cowes Sports both scored five elsewhere while Town were going down but it was certainly a harsh lesson learned for the side who were already understrength and had influential Lloyd Foot playing at half pace for much of the match with a suspect hamstring.
The squad had been hampered by Michael Dixon and Ope Aromona being stuck in London by train delays so manager Neil Benson went with lofty Leighton Speechley-Price up front and his side went ahead within a minute. A corner was slung in and when referee McFarland whistled all expected a home free-kick but he pointed to the spot and after a lengthy delay Foot knocked in the kick which acted as the catalyst for the home side and bench to bully the officials for the rest of the game which left more than a sour taste and did nothing for Andover’s concentration.
From the restart Jack Hopper shoved Brad Benson off the pitch and onto a path and was rightly booked which led to more abuse before Speechley-Price and Foot both had efforts saved by home keeper Richard Payne.
Pewsey eventually settled and Hopper levelled when he let fly from way out and his drive flew past Michael Weatherall and moments later he almost gave his side the lead with another drive which was just deflected past the post.
With the home bench screaming for everything the pressure began to show on referee McFarland and a home substitute was cautioned for dissent before Speechley-Price headed a Lewis Benson corner wide on the half hour. With seven minutes of the half left Joe Broadbank hit one from all of 30 yards and Weatherall was a passenger as the ball flew in to give Pewsey the lead.
With Town struggling to regain their shape Ricky Franklin back headed a cross over the stranded Weatherall and the turnaround was complete minutes before the break.
Lewis Benson’s long run ended with Tyler Betteridge driving over but the effects of Wednesday’s three hour marathon at Brockenhurst was already showing as Town showed few signs of their slick passing football.
After the break Cameron Hough and Speechley-Price set up Betteridge who hooked a shot over and Town enjoyed a brief spell of dominance and Benson switched Claudio Herbert for the giant Chris Williams before Foot shot wide on the hour.
Betteridge then made way for Tommy Wright and Foot was pushed further up front but by then little was going right and with ten minutes left Tom Ritchie nodded in a corner to make it 4-1 and wrap up the points.
Andover now have a clear week to lick their wounds and prepare for next Saturday’s match with Cowes Sports at Winklebury while Pewsey Vale might care to ponder on their programme notes where at least half a dozen of the pen pics mention disciplinary problems – something all too evident on today’s showing.
More from Andover Town later and reaction here tomorrow and in Friday's Advertiser