Petersfield Town 0 Andover Town 4.
Another double from leading scorer Michael Dixon plus strikes from Lewis Benson and Oli Yates put paid to home club Petersfield Town’s season long unbeaten record and elevated Andover Town to favourites for the Wessex League Division One title at Love Lane on Saturday.
It was full reward for a torrid afternoon which ended with the home side down to nine men after both Jamie Field and Phil Archibold were dismissed by referee Michael Fogt for two yellow card offences.
More than half the attendance had travelled from Andover and they witnessed a stunning display where Town stuck to a game plan and kept their discipline, as well another clean sheet while snuffing out the challenge from prolific striker Robbie Tambling, who rarely had a kick.
Boss Neil Benson called the result “an excellent three points” although stating “the title wasn’t won or lost yesterday as there are still four very important games to come but we are very pleased to be closer to the aim of this club which is of course promotion to the Premier Division.”
Town started well and had a penalty claim for handball turned down inside three minutes before Dixon got away from his marker but was off target. Claudio Herbert tested keeper Matt Short and was inches wide before the first goal just before the half hour mark when after Herbert and Yates had swapped wings the latter found room and drove in a shot from the corner of the box which beat Short.
Petersfield enjoyed a good spell as they looked to hit right back and Jordan O’Donnell cleared a shot off the line then moments later former Andover man Alex Ward hit a clearance straight to the powerful Dixon but he could not convert as Short denied him.
With the tempo rising the game became more feisty and Town doubled their advantage four minutes from the break when Michael Weatherall’s long drop kick was missed by the two central defenders and Dixon got between them to fire a shot which was parried by Short, but the Londoner knocked in the rebound to the delight of the vocal away support.
Petersfield had a chance to get back in the game ten minutes after the break when Steve Cammack crashed in a shot from 35 yards but Lloyd Foot somehow got in the way of it on the line and that play went a long way to determining the outcome of the game, and possibly the title.
Short did well to deny Benson just before the hour then Yates and substitute Cameron Hough both went close as Town looked to put the game to bed but with 15 minutes left the home club’s record was in tatters as they pressed self destruct. Dixon was again causing havoc and when Short could not deal with his shot, he ended up rolling the rebound home from a prone position and the points were safe. Moments later Ford collected a second yellow as Petersfield’s discipline went and from the free-kick Foot found Yates and his pass was good enough for Benson to finish in style for the fourth.
With their afternoon in ruins Archibold joined his colleague in the shower as he also amassed two yellow and one red card but the outcome had long since been decided.
Neil Benson added: “Our squad was different class today and they knew their responsibilities as we had thoroughly prepared and seen Petersfield several times so we knew what to expect.”
Despite the home side collecting a raft of bookings plus the two dismissals Benson called the game ‘physical without being over the top and I have total respect for Petersfield who are a very capable side.”
While declining to name a man of the match Benson singled out Oli Yates, keeper Michael Weatherall and Jordan O’Donnell as having fine games in what was a good day for the fledgling club.
They now have a week off as they have no game this Saturday and play the rearranged game at Hythe and Dibden on April 12 before the return game with Petersfield on Easter Saturday and two more home games with Tadley Calleva and Ringwood Town.
Team: Michael Weatherall, Lewis Alderman, Ope Aromona, Jordan O’Donnell, Lloyd Foot, Ryan Inskip, Claudio Herbert, Lewis Benson, Michael Dixon, Jamie Dockree, Oli Yates. Used subs: Chivendu Vine, Toby McAuley, Cameron Hough.
Earlier in the day the U18 side drew 0-0 with Bath City in the SW Counties League. Again shorn a number of regulars as the heavy fixture list for the youngsters takes its toll, they fielded two U16s but with results going the right way are still in with a shout for honours.