Andover Town 7 Hayling United 1.
Four goals from top scorer Michael Dixon, taking his season total to 25 was the catalyst behind Andover Town’s straight forward victory over basement club Hayling United today at the Portway Stadium.
With Stockbridge pulling out of the Wessex League on Tuesday Town hastily arranged for Hayling United to visit, possibly aware that they had not played a minute of football since Town won 8-0 at the College Ground in mid December. The move worked although strangely the side struggled at times to put together their flowing football against a side which was was far more competitive than their current status would suggest.
Manager Neil Benson lost Alex Dockree and Claudio Herbert to injury and young Tom Riddell was still a couple of weeks away from a return but they always had plenty in reserve and once the deadlock was broken with two goals in as many minutes just before the break the result and the points were secure.
Lloyd Foot twice went close within five minutes of the start then Lewis Benson showed he was up for the challenge with a crisp 25 yarder which was inches wide with young keeper Luke Eaton a spectator. Town struggled to find some fluidity and Hayling United escaped their shackles on the half hour Lewis Edwards shot wide before he and Scott Hamilton both tested Michael Weatherall as the visitors enjoyed a brief spell.
Ope Aromona set up Dixon who was just crowded out but on 40 minutes Town were up and running as Oli Yates and Lewis Benson combined before Dixon stepped inside to crash home the opener from the edge of the area.
With the next attack Yates again was involved as he drifted a cross to the unmarked Benson who stooped to nod the ball home from a kneeling position.
Yates was enjoying himself out wide and his cross shot beat Eaton and the far post just after the restart but it was soon 3-0 as Benson’s stunning threaded pass was retrieved by Yates and his perfect cross was expertly nodded home by Dixon.
Town were then finding plenty of space although Edwards was doing his utmost to keep the scoreline respectable for Hayling but Jordan O’Donnell, Benson and Yates again combined with a sweet move which was just kept out by Eaton. The respite was short for on the hour Lewis Alderman threw over a speculative cross shot which beat everyone before nestling in at the far post for the fourth.
United did not lie down and when they were given a free-kick for a clumsy challenge just outside the area Edwards neat chip was always too good for Weatherall, and was the first league goal conceded by Town since December 10.
Dixon, Foot and substitute Toby McAuley all went close then Cole Hinchcliffe nodded wide until Town did their goal difference no harm with three goals in the last ten minutes taking their tally in all games to exactly 100.
Grant Dove was cautioned for deliberate handball and Foot’s free-kick was too much for Eaton who could only parry it to Yates who made no mistake for the fifth then with United tiring visibly McAuley was fouled in the area and Dixon completed his hat-trick from the spot.
Deep into injury time Yates found Foot whose cheeky pass was nodded in for Dixon’s fourth, Town’s seventh and the century.