ANDOVER Town's hopes of avoiding relegation took a significant blow today after a 3-1 defeat away to a transformed New Milton Town side.

New Milton, buoyed by a recent influx of new signings, have rocketed up the Velocity Wessex League Division One table after staring relegation in the face just weeks ago. Andover, on the other hand, can only look on with envy at their opponent's turnaround.

Both teams started energetically at a frenetic pace and seemed pretty evenly matched.

New Milton almost opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute when a break from the right wing by number 11 Barney Stone ended in a shot which just skimmed the far post. 

But Andover came more and more into the game as the half progressed and in the 20th minute won three corners in quick succession. Sadly none resulted in a chance.

Town were then looking more threatening until in the 33rd minute Andover’s attacking left back Mohammed Faye went down with what looked a serious leg injury and sadly he had to leave the pitch and be substituted by number 12 Ocesam Touray.

It looked very much like the first half would finish goalless which is what Andover deserved after a very encouraging first-half display.

But calamity struck in the 46th minute when a disastrous attempt by keeper Lewis Hoy to play the ball out from the back presented it on a plate to number seven Connor Ford who slid the ball into an empty net to score his second. (1-0)

The second half continued in a similar vein, with both teams creating chances. Dan Hargood nearly equalised for Andover with a long-range shot, but New Milton doubled their lead through Ford once again in the 60th minute.

Brad Snelling added a third for the home side in the 70th minute, effectively ending the contest. Malachi Johnson grabbed a consolation goal for Andover in the 87th minute, but it wasn't enough to prevent a demoralising defeat.

The next match is on Tuesday, March 26, at Portway when the visitors are Fawley AFC. Kick-off 7.45pm.