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Whitchirch title chase kicks in while Robins and New Street win away
THE area’s three Wessex League Division one sides performed a classic smash and grab raid on Saturday with three superb away victories, two against sides chasing the title.
Stockbridge continued their rehabilitation with a fine 2-1 win at Ringwood Town making it four games unbeaten while the most unlikely result came at Grigg Lane where title favourites Brockenhurst were beaten by a single Craig Blakeman goal as Andover New Street at last enjoyed the success they have earned but were denied in recent months.
Result of the day came at Westwood Park where leaders Cowes Sports became the latest side to succumb to the Whitchurch United goal rush, going down 4-0 to a side which is averaging four goals a game recently. The Jamboys manager Jim Macey’s son Louis was among the scorers but Macey Senior singled out Ashley Childs who he said “came off the bench and tore their defence apart.”
The striker was back to his best, replacing to score twice with clinical finishes and not far behind was Luke Walker, described by Macey as “unplayable.”
And all this after the leaders had battered Whitchurch for the first half hour but the visiting defence, without the injured Ali Brown and with Chris Smalley stepping in successfully again, coped with everything. They could even afford the luxury of conceding an early penalty but Tom Hindmarsh was equal to the spot kick.
“They were getting the ball wide and causing us problems and we were slow out of the blocks” said Macey “but in truth the injury to their left winger changed the game.”
Within minutes Adam Everiss had slipped a ball through to Sam Argent who beat the keeper and that in itself was a bonus after the young striker had limped off before half-time in the Open Cup win over Andover Lions on Tuesday night. His goal gave ‘Church a slim lead at the break but the second half was a different story.
“We stepped up a gear and when Sam’s injury flared up Ashley Childs came off the bench and that was that” said Macey.
Louis Macey and Paul Coventry found Isaac Sedu his cross was tucked away by Nick Jupp for the fourth which puts Whitchurch fourth in the table and just a point behind Brockenhurst and Team Solent. Suddenly Whitchurch are right on the mix of the promotion positions and now only seven points behind Cowes with a game on hand as well as still in the Andover Open Cup and North Hants Senior Cup and a late charge for the title is not beyond the bounds of possibility.
“My back line were awesome and we are keeping clean sheets which is always a good thing. We must have a chance now.” Macey concluded. Tuesday sees the second part of the Fleet Town cup double as the Southern Leaguers visit Longmeadow having won in the Basingstoke Senior Cup tie 3-1 a couple of weeks ago. Macey is hoping for a strong squad, but without Brown, as he sees the North Hants Senior Cup as one his side can win. “I tinkered with the team for the first game but won’t make that mistake again.” Then on Saturday basement boys Hythe and Dibden are on a hiding to nothing as they travel to Longmeadow.
Meanwhile Phil Andrews’ New Street side were upsetting the form books and doing their near neighbours a favour when Craig Blakeman’s early strike brought victory for the first time since the middle of December and seriously dented the Badgers’ championship hopes. Perhaps with tongue in cheek Andrews’ reaction was “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win by more. Craig scored early then Adam Battison hit the bar.”
The home side were not in it until ten minutes from the end when Street were forced to hang on and nine minutes injury time did little for the nerves.
Andrews added: “They played into our hands as at the back Stuart (Anderson) missed nothing. We deserved it as our work rate was back and we harassed them. Mark Keogh was exceptional and Matty Styles made a big difference in the midfield.
"I believe we have underachieved by around 15 points but it was the comments today which pleased me the most as Brock were as good as gold after and said it was good that we beat them by playing football and not by kicking them off the park.”
The treble was made up by Stuart Thomson’s Stockbridge who took all three points away from struggling Ringwood Town.
“It was a great result” said a delighted Thomson whose take on the first half was that it was ‘pretty even’ with his side continuing their recent good run of form after the break. Town had taken the lead against the run of play but Mike Barker converted a cross for the equaliser before Jack Hutchings went down under a challenge in the box and Danny Field converted the spot kick which was enough for the points. “I thought the penalty was a bit soft but some you get and some you don’t” Thomson admitted “but we are on a roll and have a run going now". The Robins travel to Tadley Calleva on Tuesday for a league game then are home to troubled Amesbury Town, whose behaviour on and off the pitch at Whitchurch last week is being investigated by the Wiltshire FA.
Former Andover Lion boss Paul George has signed for another spell at the Rec and he will be in the squad tomorrow for what Thomson says is ‘a very winnable game.’