Lions edge seven goal cup thriller in extra-time

Andover Advertiser: Adams, Craney and Rusher combine against Broughton Adams, Craney and Rusher combine against Broughton

Broughton 3 Andover Lions 4 aet.

North Hants Intermediate Cup.

Andover Lions had to dig deep to win their North Hants Intermediate Cup quarter-final tie at Broughton on Saturday but fought their way back three times before edging through in extra-time.

Two goals from striker Chris Boothe, one from Casson Spencer and an own goal was enough to put them into the semi-final where they will play either New Inn or Welly OB from Basingstoke at Charlton on Feb 15.

Andover fell behind within a minute as Luke Harry knocked home the loose ball and they were forced onto the back foot with a series of attacks from a determined Broughton side. Soon after Sam Baxter had to be at his best to turn away an effort from Reed but on 20 minutes and against the run of play, Lions grabbed their first equaliser of the afternoon.

Reece Rusher played in a corner, John Robb won the aerial ball and Spencer lashed it into the roof of the net from five yards out.

It was more than they deserved but did little to settle them as Broughton soon regained the upper hand when Harry got between Tom Adams and Baxter and rolled the ball into the net.

The Andover dressing room was no place for the faint hearted at the break and the change was almost immediate. Two minutes in Rusher had a half chance from a Boothe corner and just before the hour they again pulled level. Rusher hit a high curling corner into the danger area and a Broughton defender played the ball into his own net under pressure from Robb and Spencer. Lions were then playing to their potential but midway through Boothe had a goal controversially disallowed after a late linesman’s flag and two minutes later Spencer was flattened in the box but no penalty was given. Brad Craney went close on 70 minutes when denied by a full length save from Dan Loader and then moments later Broughton took the lead for a third time as Reed headed in a free-kick to put them within touching distance of a semi-final place.

Andover were not to be denied and with ten minutes left the hardworking Spencer forced his way past two challenges and set up Boothe to level at the second attempt.

Extra-time began with Andover in control and a tiring Broughton were penned back for long periods they almost regained the lead when Harry broke past the advancing Baxter and looked odds on to complete his hat-trick until Robb denied him with an outstanding last ditch tackle and clearance.

Just before the break it again looked as if Broughton would take control as Jamie Pollard received a second yellow and Lions entered the last period with ten men but it was not a problem as Boothe scored the winner, again after good work from Spencer, and the Lions went ahead for the first time during the match.

There was still time for Boothe to smash an effort against the post and Robert Grist’s final whistle was met with delight by the Andover team who had certainly made hard work of their afternoon.

Boss Ray Cozze was delighted to be in the semi- final draw but bemused by the Jekyll and Hyde performance that his team had put on: “The first half was the worst football we have played all season and by some distance too.

‘The only good thing that came out of it was that we were still in the game and only one goal behind. The players were told a few home truths at half-time and credit to every one of them for how they responded.

‘They were magnificent after that and dominated the game from then on. In the end they refused to be beaten and to come back three times shows real character.”

Tomorrow it’s back to league action when Lions host table topping Bush Hill, kick-off 2pm.

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