Wessex Division One

Romsey Town 3

(John Howard, Tom Donaldson, Darryl Phillips)

Folland Sports 1

(Lewis Peckham)

Attendance: 74

Bypass Ground

The league season has officially started with a nice short trip 1.8 miles away from my current address to Romsey Town Football Club.

Friendly games are ok, it gets you through what would usually be a dull month filled up with cricket but nothing compares to the twists and turns of a league season. With Monday nights match between Team Solent and Alresford abandoned following a broken leg on 30 minutes, Tuesday 2nd August was the be the first full 90 minutes for teams in the Wessex Premier and Division One.

After a nine-hour shift, I decided to stay close to home for only my second visit to the Bypass Ground.

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The Ground

Having to drive past the stadium most days, there has been a fair bit of activity going on in and around the ground, my only previous experience came on a wet weeknight against University of Southampton in a cup match, not one to be remembered.

They do seem to have made some improvements to the parking and the pitch doesn’t seem as uneven as I last remembered. Add that to two fairly new turnstiles and a brilliant open area with picnic benches next to the food stand, I will probably be spending a fair bit of time there following my move to the town in mid-July.

The one seated stand on the far side, away from the entrance and clubhouse is pretty basic, it didn’t scream for me to sit there so I decided to stand between the two dugouts, an odd choice for me but it provided extra entertainment watching the reactions of the managers and benches.

There is a covered standing behind one goal, I could imagine that being very lively if Romsey ever reached the dizzy heights of the FA Cup first round or similar.

A little bit of covered standing to the right of the dugouts completes all the shelter with the rest of the spectator areas open to the elements.

I treated myself to a burger with a very efficient numbered ticket system, I carried on watching the game until my number was ready. Grubs Up! (If only they shouted that.)

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The Game

Lewis Peckham’s first minute strike, and an early goal of the season contender, wasn’t enough to help Folland Sports claim all three points on the opening day as Romsey scored two second half goals to run away with the victory.

John Howard had levelled for the home side before the break and a beautiful strike from Tom Donaldson confirmed the three points before Darryl Phillips scored a late third goal.

The game was barely two minutes old when Folland striker Peckham picked the ball up on the edge of the box and neatly sent his side footed effort dipping over goalkeeper Matt Fredericks, clipping the crossbar on its way in.

A new look Folland Sports side, following relegation from the Wessex Premier, couldn’t capitalise on the early lead and Romsey were trying their luck to pull the scores even.

John Howard coolly volleyed in the equaliser past Joe Hunt after Donaldson’s accurate little chip across the box. Winger Indrit Elezi had worked hard to win a corner and took it quick to former Southampton, Reading and Portsmouth midfielder Brian Howard who managed to find Donaldson in the box. The left-winger seemed to take an age with the ball but picked out John Howard to volley home.

Both sides looked fairly even but Town ‘keeper Fredericks had to be alert to save from a Folland attack.

Romsey nearly took the lead before the break when Donaldson’s deflected cross forced Hunt into a good save as it looked to be heading goal bound.

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With the scores all level at the break, the linesmen were doing their bit in preventing Follands from taking the lead when Peckham raced through and slipped it under the keeper, only for the offside flag to be raised.

The home side also had the ball in the back of the net after a goalmouth scramble but the referee had seen a foul and blown for a free kick.

Following Peckham’s opener, it would have taken something special to beat that effort but when Donaldson picked up the ball straight from the goalkeepers kick, he drove towards the edge of the box, cut inside and unleashed a pile driver into the top corner on his left foot with the keeper left dumbfounded stuck to the floor.

Folland Sports looked dead and buried and sat deep for the remainder of the game, looking tired.

Donaldson managed to get into a similar goal scoring opportunity but he chose to pass to John Howard who couldn’t get his shot on target.

With Follands throwing their last bit of energy into an attack, Romsey hit on the break with Brian Howard finding Donaldson with acres of space and he calmly sent the ball square to substitute Phillips who took a touch and brushed the ball into the bottom corner to end any hope of a Folland Sports comeback.

2016/17 Games: 12

2016/17 Grounds: 14

Total Grounds Visited: 157

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