Andover Town 5 Andover Lions 0.
Andover League Open Cup semi-final.
Andover Town duly took their place in their first ever cup final as they eased past Hampshire Premier League Division One Andover Lions at a packed Portway on Tuesday evening .
Rarely has the stadium held a crowd of 300 plus and it is very unlikely that an Andover League Open Cup match has ever remotely got near that figure but the circumstances behind the match ensured that it was always a possibility and when the weather gods relented for the evening the public came in their droves.
Town manager Neil Benson was hamstrung by the league ruling which prevented a number of the younger players from making an appearance but it was local boy Oli Yates who stole the show with a lob from distance on 14 minutes which Lions’ keeper Andy Burt could only watch and admire.
Three minutes later Yates’ near post corner was nodded in by the huge figure of Ike Robertson and a rout was on the cards but Ray Cozze’s men are made of sterner stuff and they forced a series of corners which allowed Casson Spencer and Vinnie Rusher to make things awkward for Town keeper Michael Weatherall for a while.
As Lions struggled to cope with the pace of the impressive Cameron Hough alongside Lewis Alderman in the middle, both Jamie Pollard and Sam Pike were booked before Hough was wide with a long range drive and Robertson shot over.
After the break Lions came back with Brad Craney shooting over but as they began to tire the tackles arrived later and Town’s Lloyd Foot and Lion’s Rusher joined the others in the book.
Hough and Robertson were enjoying themselves for Town and Yates was again the provider with 15 minutes left as his cross from the byline was driven in by Robertson for his second.
By then Benson had sent on son Lewis Benson, Tommy Wright and Claudio Herbert and the trio of young legs were too much for Lions as Benson showed his skill near the corner flag to set up Foot for the fourth which went in off the unlucky Burt.
Benson then moved infield to smash home the fifth from 18 yards before Robertson was denied a hat-trick by the post and a fabulous point blank save from Burt seconds later.
Sadly Lions ended the game with ten men as after substitutes Jazz Beavis and Tommy Burton were booked, player-chairman Darren Paris was shown a straight red for some ill-advised comments.
Despite the passion involved on the night the crowd warmed by the sight of Ike Robertson helping Lions’ defender John Robb who was stricken by a double helping of cramp late on in the game and duly gave him a round of applause.
Town have a wait to see who they will play in the final, presumably at the Portway, as Otterbourne take on Broughton on Tuesday for the right to play Whitchurch United in the other semi-final.