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Herbert double brings vital win but at a cost
Andover Town 2 Pewsey Vale 0.
Andover Town survived a fierce test on Tuesday night from a Pewsey Vale side looking to complete a double over the title chasers and in turn sent a message to the others near the top as two fine strikes from Claudio Herbert brought three valuable points.
With Cowes Sports and Hythe and Dibden both registering good wins it was crucial that the college-based side continued their run but it did not come without a down side.
The home dressing room and car park resembled a scene from M*A*S*H after the game with Brad Benson in an ambulance suffering with concussion, brother Lewis also in the wars after being forcibly introduced to a pitch barrier and Jordon O’Donnell, Toby McAuley and Michael Dixon among others in some discomfort.
Town’s impressive average since moving into the Portway of a goal every 15 minutes was never going to be improved on as Pewsey were no pushovers and they showed their intentions soon after the start with Tom Ballard bringing a save out of Michael Weatherall.
Herbert and Dixon went close at the other end then Gunner Yates had a shot saved by Richard Payne as the pace quickened and the tackles started to fly in.
Lewis Alderman set up Dixon, who was twice denied by Paybe then Herbert’s volley was somehow kept out by a combination of Payne and the near post just past the half hour.
However, the visiting defence was eventually breached six minutes from the break when, from a corner, Herbert cut in and smashed home a 25 yarder to the relief of the home support.
After the break Pewsey were still a threat but Town settled first and Dixon’s strength and skill set up McAuley whose effort was again saved by Payne who then parried a Lloyd Foot free-kick.
Their momentum disappeared just as a brief downpour hit the ground as Brad Benson came off worse in a three man collision and after a lengthy spell on the ground he was stretchered off, to be replaced by Ope Aromona.
The break altered the aspect of the game as Pewsey sensed a way back and Kane Lever went close on the hour but the threat was snuffed out on 65 minutes as Herbert wrapped up the points.
A swift counter attack down the left found the young winger in space and he cut in and again beat Payne with an identical strike.
It was just what the doctor ordered and McAuley’s deft first touch should have led to a third soon after but he snatched his shot.
Ryan Banks and Ballard were booked late on but despite the injuries it was never a dirty game and would have not looked out of place in the Premier Division.