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Town ten points clear after second half double denies New Milton
Andover 2 New Milton Town 0.
Andover Town’s walking wounded took an hour to prise open stubborn New Milton on Saturday and it was only after the introduction of skipper Lewis Benson that they edged ahead and kept up the pace at the top of the Wessex League First Division.
Neil Benson’s troops had the majority of possession but without the telling final pass and the chances created went begging as their record of scoring in every league game looked under threat.
Happily for the 100 plus crowd two superb strikes in seven second half minutes put the game to bed and maintained the side’s ten point lead at the top.
Possibly following the war of attrition with Pewsey Vale on Tuesday last, Town struggled to find the target as teenage visiting keeper Tom Jackson marked an excellent debut with a string of excellent saves.
Lewis Benson began the game on the bench after his battering on Tuesday and in the end his appearance on the hour proved to be the turning point.
Town had missed four chances in the first 15 minutes before Jackson did well to keep out a Michael Dixon effort with the follow up cleared off the line. The division’s top scorer then fired over before in the next attack he pulled the ball back for the returning Alex Dockree to bring another save out of the overworked Jackson.
Twice more after the break the youngster denied Dixon as a goalless draw began to look a possibility before Dixon made way for Benson and within two minutes the deadlock was broken.
Benson’s long raking pass found Oliver Yates and he vollyed home from 20 yards to give Town the lead and ease the tension on and off the park.
New Milton refused to cave in and thought they had equalised soon after as Rob Tappett lobbed Michael Weatherall only to watch his effort land on the roof of the net.
Jackson then saved from Toby McAuley to keep his side still in with a shout but with 15 minutes left Benson set up the impressive Lloyd Foot who lashed home a 30 yarder to seal the win and the points.
Near the close Dockree had a goal disallowed for offside before at the other end Tappett hit the bar but the game was safe and Neil Benson was a relieved man.
“We love to entertain but the points were paramount today and it was important that we gave nothing away” he said, adding: “That is 41 goals in eight games and seven wins at the Portway, including two tough games this week.”
Making Lloyd Foot man of the match in what he described as a ‘good team performance’ Benson pointed to yet another clean sheet as key to the success so far and with a double header against main challengers Petersfield Town next month the run in is mouth watering for the Portway public.