Andover travelled to Alton in the first game of the inaugural Hampshire Senior Invitational Cup.

A lot of credit must go to the Sydenhams Wessex League and Hampshire FA for establishing a competition to replace the leagues that were curtailed due to the most recent national lockdown. With new signings Gary Thorne, returning after a spell back at Andover New Street, and Aaron Matthews, recently signed from Bournemouth Poppies, unavailable for differing reasons, Andover came into the game light of defenders. MacAulie Stubbs was also absent meaning Musah Stamburi starting at right back and Adam Pattison and Harry Barkaway playing as a new centre back pairing. Owen Trapnell returned to the left back position. Alton, likely benefactors from the proposed FA restructure due to their form over the last two seasons, have a formidable home record and had previously beaten Andover 5-1 earlier in the season at the same venue.

The visitors started brightly aware of the physicality of Alton’s game and playing composed football. With Callum Sweeney retaining possession with ease and combining well with those around him, Andover got a foot hold in the game and were awarded with the opening goal. Josh Bertie linked up with Tom Pattison on the edge of the box, knocking the ball past the Alton defender before running clear and slotting the ball past the advancing keeper. Alton began to impose themselves and had several clear cut chances as a result of Andover giving the ball away but spurned them all. However, after 27 minutes they found a equaliser, Fowler finding space and beating Kerrison.

A raft of changes due to rolling substitutions disrupted the flow of the game at times but Andover settled and started the better side in the second half. Their dominance paid off when Bertie again raced clear of the Alton backline and firing into the net to put Andover in front. Alton, searching for a goal to pull them level again, were in the ascendancy for a 10 minute spell without creating too many opportunities and Andover began to nullify a lot of their possession. As the game wore on Andover looked the most likely to score. Man of the Match, Zac Hine, and his fellow winger Ben Emans both having good chances before Luke Adams put the game beyond any doubt with the third and final goal.

Andover will take a lot from the game and move on to their local derby at home to Whitchurch on Saturday (1pm Kick Off) in a game still having to be played behind closed doors due to COVID restrictions.

Final Score: Andover Town 3 - Alton 1

Starting 11: Kerrison; Stamburi, A.Pattison, Barkaway, Trapnell; Holmes (Capt), Sweeney; Hine, T.Pattison, O’Kelly; Bertie

Subs: Adams, Jones, Emans, Waters