ANDOVER Town manager Glenn Burnett has heaped praise on his “brave” side after their last gasp defeat to league leaders Moneyfields on Saturday.
The Town boss watched his depleted side as they held out for 87 minutes against the likely Wessex League Premier champions in a tense game at the Portway.
However their defence was finally breached three minutes from time, when Moneyfields top scorer Steve Hutchings volleyed a superb effort past man-of-the-match Lloyd Thomas.
Despite the 1-0 defeat, Burnett was full of praise for his side’s battling performance.
He said: “It was a really good performance from the lads. I was really proud of them.
“Lloyd Thomas put in a brilliant performance and was deservedly man-of-the-match, but everyone of those lads put in a real shift on Saturday.
“I can’t fault them.”
Burnett went into the game with a serious selection headache – having just 12 players available to face the league leaders.
This included Connor Cocklin, making his 50th appearance for Town, and youngster Jack Nicholls, who was playing his first 90 minutes in six months.
Moneyfields created a number of chances in the first half, but were continually denied by in-form Thomas.
At the other end, Zach Glasspool fired over, while Liam Gilbert hit the crossbar with a shot from the left.
Despite this, neither side could break the deadlock at half-time.
Andover had a couple of chances from free-kicks after the break.
First, Liam Gilbert’s attempt was well held by Steve Mowthorpe, who also tipped over a shot from Reece Rusher.
A busy Thomas continued to keep out Moneyfields at the other end, despite growing pressure from the visitors.
This culminated in a shot from Hutchings in the 70th minute, which cannoned off the crossbar.
With the game drawing to a close, Andover looked to have sealed an unlikely point.
But dangerous forward Hutchings struck three minutes from time with a beautiful volley into the top corner.
Town will face a final game away at Alresford on Saturday.
Boss Burnett is hoping Town can now finish their season on a high.
He said: “We are going there for one reason and one reason only, to get three points.
“There are players we want to retain and players we want to bring in for next season.
“It’s important to finish this season on a high.”