Lions go down to defeat at title chasing Hamble Club

Basingstoke Gazette: Ryan Steele in action against Hamble Club on Saturday Ryan Steele in action against Hamble Club on Saturday

Hamble Club 4 Andover Lions 0.

Andover Lions were beaten for the second weekend in a row as a very good Hamble team pushed hard to catch Bush Hill at the top of Hampshire Premier League Division One.

The Lions knew that they were in for a tough test after Hamble warmed up with a 13-0 drubbing of Upham just two days earlier but they started the brightest with Ryan Steele delivering a teasing free-kick that was scrambled to safety on just three minutes. Josh Hind hit a shot just over from 25 yards but Hamble recovered from those early scares and soon started to press hard in a match that they needed to win and score goals to improve their goal difference. On 18 minutes they got their break through when Dean Byrne stolel in to slot home from five yards/ Lions kept their cool and for the next 20 minutes held their own against a very well organised team without hurting them in the final third with the impressive Matthew Burt clearing up most of Andover’s advances. Luke Watts, the leagues’ leading scorer, then had two good efforts from the edge of the area as the balance of the game started to turn and seven minutes before the break a goal-kick was charged down and Lamb ran through unchallenged to slot home. Andover were hoping to get to half-time at 2-0, a score which slightly flattered the hosts but a direct free-kick from Liam Crook deceived everyone and the Lions went in 3-0 down.

The second half saw Hamble pile on the pressure but Jon Robb and Sam Pike were in no mood to concede and battled for every ball. Rare breakaways saw Ryan Steele get some good deliveries into the box but Curnow in the Hamble goal prevented any chance of a comeback.

The rearguard action kept Hamble at bay until a misplaced clearance fell at the feet of Ricky Bull and he cleanly despatched his shot past Sam Baxter for Hamble’s fourth.

The 4-0 victory sets Hamble up for a last game of the season title decider with Bush Hill on Saturday with the title going to the winner with Bush Hill having the advantage of the draw.

Lions’ manager Ray Cozze was disappointed with the result but not the performance or the effort of his players: “Everyone worked hard today against the best team in our league and if it wasn’t for a few individual errors then we would have been a lot closer to them at the end of the match. We defended well and John Robb and Sam Pike were outstanding.

‘We lack some cutting edge going forward and perhaps some muscle too but overall I can’t complain. We have two games left and I’m asking the boys for six points to go above Lyndhurst and take fourth place and I know they’ll give it a good go.”

This Saturday Lions are home to Four Marks at 3pm in their last home game of the season before travelling to Wellow to take on Michelmersh and Timsbury to complete their season on Tuesday evening.

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