Cup action next as Lions look to make it ten out of ten

Basingstoke Gazette: Vinnie Rusher is back in the red and black Vinnie Rusher is back in the red and black

Four Marks 2 Andover Lions 5.

Vinnie Rusher and Danny Lewis both returned to pull on the red and black stripes of Andover on Saturday and helped the Lions to a ninth win on the trot at Four Marks in the Hampshire Premier League Division One. The pair, with more than 400 appearances for Andover between them, both started as Lions were without several key players with injuries to Adams, Darren Paris, Reece Rusher and long term absentee Josh Hind. Ray Cozze was also without Casson Spencer and Jamie Pollard who were attending a wedding but this season there is strength in depth in the squad and Gary Lane returned to bolster up the midfield.

Andover started with confidence and within a minute Rusher almost added to his tally of goals when his clever free-kick in the first minute eluded everyone and went just wide of the post. On six minutes they went even closer when a huge throw in by Dan Reynolds was headed against the bar by Lane.

On 13 minutes the breakthrough came when Lewis collected a short corner from Steele, took a step towards the corner of the penalty area and lashed a shot into the net that left Matt Tongue in the Four Marks goal rooted to the floor.

It was a goal of exceptional skill and confidence and helped set up the Lions for the next half hour in which they totally dominated.

Rusher and Lewis started to pull all the strings in the middle of the park and Rusher set up Steele and Tongue did well to keep him out. Midway through the half Rusher again created the chance as he played in Reynolds who held off defenders with great strength before deftly chipping over the advancing keeper for the second. Andy Burt had little to do in the Andover goal but ten minutes from the break he saved smartly after Paul Gibbs got through with the home team’s best effort. Three minutes later it was 3-0 as Reynolds raced past Corry and smashed the ball home from just inside the box.

It should have been a hat- trick for Reynolds soon after but the striker spurned the best chance.

The second half saw Andover playing up the slope and a rearranged Four Marks team started to look more comfortable after their first half mauling.

Chances however were still in abundance and Reynolds was always looking keen to add to his tally. Just past the hour Andover did get their fourth after a series of free- kicks around the box put pressure on the home defence. Brad Craney took a third free-kick in a minute but his effort was easily blocked, the rebound fell to Lane and he cleverly set up Brad Craney again who drove home from 20 yards. To their credit Four Marks never gave up and three minutes later the impressive Clarke Barclay ran through at pace to score and on 75 minutes he scored a second in almost repeat circumstances to give the scoreline some respectability.

Almost immediately Reynolds calmed any nerves the Lions may have had scoring his hat-trick goal after good work by Steele and Rusher.

Cozze used the remainder of the match to play his full quota of substitutes with Tommy Burton, Chris Boothe and Tom Gilbert all getting on as Andover comfortably saw out the match and gained a further three league points to take them just one point behind current leaders Bush Hill.

Manager Cozze and Chris Paris were both delighted after the match and club secretary Paris added: “The first 45 minutes was exceptional. Danny and Vinnie added a bit of class to what was already a very good squad.

Danny’s first goal was a treat; he has very quick feet and very good balance. Vinnie has the vision to pick out a pass that others might not see. Dan Reynolds just loves scoring goals and with these two behind him I can see him scoring a lot more.

That’s 12 in the league now and he’s top scorer in the Division.

“We won every game in October and November but December looks a very tall order, if we can do the same this month it will certainly start to get interesting.”

December’s fixtures start tomorrow at home to Clanfield from the Senior Division in the last 32 of the Hants Intermediate Cup, kick-off at Charlton is at the earlier time of 1.45pm.

More pictures from Andover Lions in Friday's Advertiser

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