Andover Town gave one of their best overall performances of the season so far, as they beat visiting promotion favourites Bemerton Heath Harlequins in the final game of 2019.

In front of an exceptionally large crowd due to the postponement of the game scheduled for the other Andover side.

It is unlikely that any of the ‘neutral’ supporters were disappointed in the afternoons entertainment.

Bemerton probably started strongest of the two teams.

Kieran Thorne was given the first chance when a Gary Thorne clearance went as far as Zac Hine who was unable to keep control and was closed down by the Bemerton midfield.

This resulted in Bemerton's Thorne running at Dave Tasker’s goal with Thorne and Owen Trapnell in pursuit. The defensive pressure paid off and the resultant shot was no challenge for the keeper.

Shortly after, Andover's Josh Bertie played a clever little pass to Trapnell who pushed the ball forward for Hine to pick up. However the pass was just a bit too optimistic and Hine was unable to reach it.

Andover’s opponents were strong and continued to press forward.

A free-kick taken by Eddie Perrett took a scarily long time to clear from the penalty area and during this front of goal action the ball was only ever a few centimetres away from being smacked into the back of the net.

Daniel Finnigan got his head on the end of a another free-kick and had beaten Tasker only to see the ball hit the top of the crossbar and go back for a goal kick.

Andover were not without their own attempts during this period, but it took a brave tackle by Brendan Holmes within the penalty area to prevent going a goal down within the first half hour.

The first 30 minutes tested the defence and they stood up to the challenge admirable.

Then, against the run of play, Andover engineered a most rewarding break.

Holmes picked up the ball midfield and passed to Tom Pattison.

Pattison’s run looked determined and focussed and his resultant pass set up Bertie amongst a group of Bemerton defenders.

Bertie took his time whilst ensuring the ball stayed close to his feet and managed to skilfully avoid a tackle.

His shot on goal was deflected but still hit the back of the net.

The goal seemed to flick a switch in the Andover players heads. From then on they played like they believed they would win.

Hine, as usual, was in the middle of most of the forward play. Even though none of his shots resulted in a goal his work rate was second to none.

As the first half was in its last few minutes Bemerton put on a concerted effort to equal the score.

After a number of free-kicks for the away side their captain Justin Bennett was deemed to have been fouled in the penalty area.

Finnigan took the spot kick but his low shot was saved by Tasker and deflected out behind the goal.

Before most of the supporters had taken their seats for the second half Andover's Thorne had cleared the ball off the line to defend the home side's lead.

In addition Finnigan had missed a Bennett cross as the ball skimmed across an empty goal face.

The fight to keep the three points had begun and Andover continued to push forward to try and secure the advantage with another goal.

A Bertie corner left the ball in a tantalising position which eventually fell to Adam Pattison for a shot.

Patrick Creese managed to save and must have been pleased the ball was back in his team’s possession.

Trapnell ran though from midfield to set Hine up with only one defender in tow. As both of them approached Creese it wasn’t immediately clear what would happen. But Creese did well and took the ball away from danger.

Kieran Diaz-Benitez had a gamble of a shot which was too far out to beat Creese, however the keeper fumbled and took two attempts to secure it.

The game became an end-to-end battle with a number of off-side calls against Bemerton and Finnigan just missing a couple more crosses.

Bertie caused the Bemerton defenders a headache all through the game especially just outside the penalty area where Andover seemed to pick up a lot of free kicks. Hine took one of these free kicks and skimmed the ball just passed the goal post, then another and placed it well and found Pattison for a header which was on target. However Creese pushed it out wide.

Tasker ended up having to perform a sliding save when the Andover defenders appeared to have hesitated anticipating an off-side call which did not happen and not long afterwards Pride Kayima and Holmes were either side of Bemerton's Thorne close to goal when he shot and it appeared they were both watching it head towards goal. However the view from the stand had been deceiving and the ball went wide.

As the game entered added time the excitement continued. Tasker was called upon to punch the ball out to keep it away from his net and in the last five seconds Andover's Thorne cleared an on target shot, blocking it with his body.

Even though the game only delivered one goal it was edge of the seat entertainment.

Both teams had opportunities to forge ahead however Andover’s overall performance was gritty and focussed which gave them the win.

Every player, including substitutions, stepped up to the challenge of gaining and defending a lead which Bemerton were battling to take.

Andover this Saturday are away at another promotion chasing team Downton.