LAST season’s winners of the Russell Cotes Cup Andover crashed out of this years competition at the first hurdle.

Whilst Romsey were the worthy winners the final scoreline of 6-0 gives a false interpretation of Andover’s overall performance.

At either end of the pitch Andover lacked cohesion but in the middle third they often out performed their opponents.

With several players on the injury list, Josh Bertie away on international duty and a delay in completing the paperwork for Gary Thorne’s transfer Andover were not at full strength.

However, this did not prevent them creating the first chance of the game but Owen Trapnell’s

deep cross was a touch too deep and Shaquille Gwengwe was unable to make the decisive connection.

With 10 minutes gone Romsey scored twice in two minutes leaving Andover a difficult hill to climb.

The first was fortuitous when a free kick taken by Jack Odam,from wide on the right appeared to be drifting wide of the far post but dipped over Kieran McHardy into the back corner of the net.

The second came when Odam latched on to a log ball over the Andover defence and duly fired in beyond McHardy’s reach.

A precise tackle by Nathan Lunness prevented a third goal in as many minutes Nickoy Pinnock’s header was well saved at the other end.

This good effort heralded the start of a good spell for Andover which included Trapnell’s long distance effort that was not too far away.

However, Andover were still unable to get the ball over the line and were duly punished when Odam converted a cross from the left to complete his hat-trick.

Ten minutes after the re-start, Andover conceded a sloppy goal to give Romsey an unassailable advantage.

Attempting to clear their lines the ball instead went straight to Dan Fox who smashed a twenty yard volley back into the empty net.

Arguably Andover’s best chance of the match arrived just past the hour mark.

Lewis Wakeford held off several challenges before attempting to beat the goalkeeper, who was fortunate to be able to make the save.

With 15 minutes left Romsey scored their fifth from a header at the far post following a corner. McHardy’s excellent anticipation denied Odam a fourth goal before two minutes from time yet another long range volley brought Romsey their final goal.

Andover's man of the match was Mark Keogh.

REPRIEVED from joining the competition until this stage because of past results Andover Town could find themselves back at square one in next season’s FA Vase after this fairly comprehensive 4-1 defeat.

Visitors Badshot Lea play one level higher than Andover in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, and on the day deserved their win but both sides can surely play better and the game will not live in anyone’s memory for very long.

Town have a history this season of conceding early goals and almost did so in the opening 20 seconds, when they gave the ball away and Lea striker Jack May, probably the game’s outstanding player, was allowed a free run in to the area and was only foiled by a smart save from Dave Tasker in the home goal.

The visitors looked the sharper and Andover’s cause was not helped when Jordan Raguette pulled up in pursuit of a through ball and limped off with less than 10 minutes played.

Solomon Mawo fastened on to another through ball with the defence caught square and was stopped by a challenge by goalkeeper Jordan Clement on the edge of the area.

Both players needed treatment with Clement only lasting a couple of minutes before he too limped off. Badshot had only named two substitutes but thankfully for them one, in Tom Chase, was a goalkeeper.

With 25 minutes gone, Town nearly broke the deadlock as a low cross from Jaco Costillo found Mawo at the far post but Chase blocked the shot with his legs.

The orange shirted visitors still looked the more dangerous and Josh Francis, finding himself in a similar position to Mawo at the other end, pulled his shot wastefully across the goal.

Eight minutes before half time the deadlock was broken and the following 10 minutes in effect decided the game, Town were awarded a rather soft looking penalty which Shaquille Gwengwe drilled home.

However, the advantage lasted only two minutes as a low cross from the right was missed by the entire Andover defence leaving Liam Roberts with a simple tap in at the far post.

Into the stoppage time and Badshot scored again.

Full back Josh Pound sent Francis away down the left, Tasker came for a ball he was never going to reach and a clever lob put the visitors in front. The goalkeeper redeemed himself by tipping a goalbound header from May on to the bar and Roberts struck the outside of the post to end a furious five minutes and the half.

The history of early goals already mentioned came to the fore with a vengeance on the re-start as Andover gave the ball away under no pressure and the cross from the left was headed home by May for a 3-1 lead.

May hit the side netting with a free-kick after the defence left a ball to each other and Tasker twice saved close range efforts. Two Andover corners in quick succession produced no reward before with some 15 minutes remaining the game was finally put out of the home side’s reach.

May went down under a challenge in the area, it again looked soft but the referee can only give what he sees and James Pilgrim made no mistake from the spot.

The usual raft of late substitutions ensued and there were close shaves at each end as Gwengwe beat the goalkeeper and the far post after breaking clear and Roberts blazed over from close range at the other end after the best move of the match had left him clear.

The last action rather fittingly saw Tasker save from May, probably the two outstanding players from what was in truth a poor game.

Town now have a Russell Cotes Cup tie tomorrow night at Romsey, but more importantly their next two league games are against Follands and New Milton, games they need to win if they are going to make any impression on the league table.