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Town blunt Fleet Spurs and go top after late drama
Fleet Spurs 2 Andover Town 4.
Andover Town survived two comebacks, a spiteful substandard pitch, and a niggly last period to ultimately gain three points and stand proudly on top of the Wessex League Division One after victory at Fleet Spurs on Saturday.
Manager Neil Benson included Leighton-James Speechley-Price with powerful weapon Michael Dixon on the bench waiting to be unleashed, alongside two of the U18 team who played in the morning, in his squad at Kennels Lane.
In front of a crowd mainly of travelling supporters, it took Town just seven minutes to take the lead when a corner was not cleared and Lloyd Foot gave himself an early 21st birthday present with a delicate chip from 20 yards which gave Jordan Westbrook no chance.
James Powell had a shot from distance go just wide before Michael Weatherall somehow kept him out from five yards away.
Tom Riddell was booked for kicking the ball away before on the half hour Powell’s corner was nodded in at the near post by player-manager Sam Knowles.
Riddell was leading the line well despite the side having to adapt their style on the uneven pitch and after he linked up with the busy Claudio Herbert for Speechley-Price to slide in and just fail to convert his cross Town retook the lead.
Just on the break Oli Yates had a shot saved but Riddell retrieved the ball near the goalline before working enough space to tuck away the second from six yards.
Spurs came out with intent after the break and within ten seconds Powell again went close and Town were made to weather four corners in succession.
With the game beginning to suffer with stoppages and bookings Benson introduced Dixon in place of Riddell but before he could do damage Weatherall brought off a fabulous finger tip save to deny James Chillery.
Ten minutes later Spurs equalised again when a free-kick somehow went in off Shaun Miles With both sides going for the win tensions rose and Yates and Dixon combined for Speechley-Price to drive over then Dixon had a penalty appeal rejected when he went down in the box.
Tom Wright replaced Yates but the game turned with ten minutes left as Chillery was sent off for a high challenge which brought him a second yellow card.
Within seconds the impressive Lewis Benson was involved as the ball went out wide and Herbert hit a wicked dipping volley over Westbrook from way out.
As Fleet Spurs flagged Wright missed two chances to sew the game up but it didn’t matter as Foot and Dixon worked the ball across for another substitute Tyler Betteridge to knock in the fourth and put Andover Town top of the table.