Lions 2 Bideford 3.

The FA Trophy has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Lions and despite and early 2-0 lead this game was ultimately no exception.

The latest and hopefully last game in the club’s nomadic start to the season, held at Winchester City’s Denplan Stadium, attracted a disappointingly small crowd who made the short journey to support them. Andy Leader made just one enforced change from the side which did so well to beat Gosport Borough as Jazz Beavis replaced the injured Elliott Wykes and once the game was underway Andover won the early exchanges and went ahead after six minutes.

Nick Ogbanute’s cross found Mark Keogh who cut inside and was impeded on the edge of the area and three yards from the goalline. Ogbanute’s free-kick into a crowded goalmouth was met by Matt Styles who reacted first to stoop low and nod home. Within two minutes Lions had doubled their advantage as Bideford keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford miskicked a clearance and Ogbanute volleyed it back into an empty net.

Bideford took time to settle and Kevin Squire had an effort saved by Andy Smallpiece before Chris Brookman was brought down by a hesistant Armstrong-Ford but the penalty appeal was waved away. Visiting full back Sean Downing was a constant threat down the right and Lions found his series of crosses difficult to handle. From these a header from Squire flashed wide and another set up Matt Hockley but Lions escaped at the expense of a corner. The half ended with Squire pushed over in the area following a corner and there were no arguments as Hockley tucked away the spot kick.

A minute before the break Ellis Laight beat Smallpiece but hit the post then skied the rebound over the bar.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first but this time Bideford scored the early goal. A free-kick was swung in and Paul Kendall’s powerful header flew in to make it 2-2. The returning Sam Longman and Youseff Bamba replaced Beavis and Brookman and a good effort from Curtis Angell was saved with difficulty. Chris Onoufriou went on a mazy run from inside his own half and Bideford back pedalled but went for power and not placement and the ball ended nearer the corner flag than the goal. Laight wasted a second gilt-edged chance but it delayed the inevitable ten minutes from the end when Angell tangled with Matt Bye in the area. The referee appeared not to be interested but the linesman flagged for a penalty and Hockley’s second spot-kick was enough to deny Andover a replay.

The incident appeared no worse than that involving Brookman in the first half but it proved the decider.

Team: Andy Smallpiece, Iain Calder, Curtis Angell, Jazz Beavis, Matt Scott, Jason Sangha, Nick Ogbanute, Chris Onoufriou, Chris Brookman, Matt Styles, Mark Keogh. Subs: Sam Longman, Craig Martin, Youseff Bamba, Claudio Herbert, Josh Barnett.