Hampshire League Division One

Netley Central Sports 2

(Ash Lovett x2)

Michelmersh & Timsbury 3

(Sam Day, Cameron Marsh-White, Michael Halton)

Attendance: 25 approx. headcount

Station Road Recreation Ground

With 2016 drawing to a close, I really thought I would be seeing out the year at Gresty Road as I had every intention to go to their home game with Accrington Stanley.

However, to save a mad rush after the game back to the south coast in time for the countdown, I ditched all plans and if the roads were kind I was going to head to a game in Hampshire somewhere.

As it was, we had a clear run home and we arrived back in Romsey at 1pm, just enough time to freshen up and jump back in the car and head over to Netley Central Sports versus Michelmersh & Timsbury.

This was my first time visiting Station Road and what a way to end a top year of football. I never expect much when heading to Hampshire League games, however Netley were very welcoming, their chairman (and super sub) Jim Langdown very kindly ran through the line up with me and offered me a drink, something I am not used to (and certainly don’t expect) on my travels.

I will take this opportunity to say thank you for keeping up with my blog for the latter part of 2016 and I hope you all had a great year and I hope 2017 is even better.

The Ground

As you can imagine, once you hit this level of football, it really is just 22 blokes on a local rec with ball. I love the simplicity. There is of course a referee, but the linesmen are usually a substitute from either side.

Station Road Recreational Ground is pretty standard in comparison to the other grounds I have visited in the Hampshire Premier and Division One.

The pitch, with a string border, was soft (due to the weather) but it was reasonably flat which is a bonus at this level. There was a sizable children’s play area behind one goal and outdoor exercise equipment next to the changing rooms, a multi purpose venue at the heart of Netley.

There was a small window selling snacks and hot drinks which is a great effort from all clubs at this level to offer those facilities, especially when you appreciate that these clubs are run thanks to the help of numerous volunteers.

Station Road is another one ticked off my ever-expanding list and I would love to return in the near future should the opportunity arise.

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The Game

Michelmersh & Timsbury ended 2016 on a high with a New Years Eve 3-2 away victory over Netley Central Sports.

Goals from Sam Day, Cameron Marsh-White and Michael Halton secured the three points for the side who had only won three of their opening 13 league games.

Day and Marsh-White scored either side of an Ash Lovett strike to give M&T the lead at the break. Halton’s second half effort extended the lead but Lovett’s second of the day lead to a nervy finish.

There was nothing to separate the two teams as they entered the match with neither side having a clear-cut chance in front of goal.

The opening goal came out of no where as the ball ran through to home ‘keeper Charlie Ward who made a mess of the clearance and hit it low straight into Day who happily let the ball hit him and roll into the back of the net.

Netley responded immediately and soon pulled the scores level just two minutes later when Lovett smashed the ball into the bottom corner from a tight angle. Alex James had lost the ball in midfield and Chris Skilton did well to spray a ball out wide to Lovett who attacked, with purpose, into the box before firing in the equaliser.

It was a scrappy game and Michelmersh could have taken the lead through Falah Hassan who jinked past a couple of players before firing a shot high over the bar.

Michelmersh did take the lead again when Marsh-White connected with a free kick to fire in from close range. Kristian Pell had fouled Day wide right on the line and the delivery was perfect for Marsh-White to poke in inside the six yard box.

Netley were dealt an early blow when they lost Dan Diaper through injury and with just one substitute, Chairman Jim Langdown, on the bench, it was always going to be a tough task when the game reached the latter stages.

The home side were unlucky not to equalise for a second time when Skilton hit a good shot on the bounce but it was blocked by Sunday Oshikoya on the line.

After the restart, Netley were creating some good chances in the attacking third and Skilton headed over at the near post. Moments later Dean Lowe hit a tame shot straight at ‘keeper Aidan Dyke.

Lovett showed a touch of class to drag Lowe’s pass into the box but lacked enough composure to put any power on the shot as the ball trickled into Dyke’s hands.

With Netley committing men forward, there was plenty of space for Michelmersh to exploit on the break and when Halton switched to Hassan who had acres of space in the box it looked like the midfielder could put the game to bed. However Ward managed to push Hassan wide and he tried a curling shot which looked like it was going in before being headed away by Langdown on the line.

Pell then went for goal of the season when he tried a looping shot from a crazy distance which dipped and looked like it took a touch from the ‘keeper and post.

The visitors managed to add a third through Halton when James’ free kick on half way was flicked on by Day to Halton who showed great composure to strike the ball low and hard into the opposite corner from a tight angle.

Netley were able to pull a goal back soon after to keep the pressure on their opposition when Lovett did well to round the keeper and roll the ball over the line. Michelmersh captain Stuart Griffiths had bombed forward and after losing the ball in the opposition box there was a big space for Netley to exploit when they attacked on the counter at pace.

The home side threw everyone forward to snatch a result and Ben Calder and Lovett had good chances as Michelmersh stayed strong.

Griffiths cleared one off the line as they clung on for dear life to secure all three points to head into 2017 with a positive result.

2016/17 Games: 72

2016/17 Grounds: 52

Total Grounds Visited: 144 (37)

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