Wessex Division One

Romsey Town 1

(Tommy Donaldson)

Hamble Club 0

Attendance: 134

Bypass Ground

Friday night football is the best way to start a weekend, and more clubs should do it!

If you think of all the leagues and all the games in the country with small clubs like Romsey taking a small share of a large Saturday afternoon crowd spread out over the country, you would like to think some clubs could attract a bigger crowd if they played on a Friday night.

I am sure Sunday may work just as well but there is something about a game under the lights, with the weekend just beginning that is a true selling point.

For Romsey, who play in the Wessex Division One (tier ten of the English football pyramid) they usually get between 40-60 in attendance for a home match. Tonight’s game was over four times the gate when 32 people packed into the Bypass Ground for their home league match with Shaftesbury in December.

Their biggest attendance of the season prior to the match with top of the league Hamble Club was 85 against East Cowes Victoria back in August so reaching triple figures for a game was an amazing feat.

With a low of 32 and a high of 85 in the league so far, Friday night football was certainly a success in terms of getting people through the gate, an option that I would love to see happen again with the Bypass being the closest football ground to my house.

It was great to see so many people there, not only will it attract ground hoppers but it may have also given locals their first taste of football in the town who may want to come back or invited former spectators to return, either way, the club should definitely explore playing on a Friday again.

It was also good to see the Romsey Town youth team players walking out with the team before the game, something so simple gets them watching the mens side and of course the parents are happy to go along too.

Kids for a quid, free chips to first 50 through the gate, anything like that can get the crowds in and stir up a bit of local interest.

For me, this was my fourth trip to Romsey Town this season and my fifth visit in total, I was present for the opening game of the season when they beat Folland Sports back on August 1st. I since returned for an FA Vase defeat to Portland United and a league loss to AFC Stoneham.

I have also seen them away this season, a Wessex League Cup defeat at The Dell, home of Laverstock & Ford.

This was also three games in as many days in a packed week (fourth game since Monday) and my weekend wasn’t ending there with a proposed double header at Dorchester and Weymouth Reserves on the cards tomorrow.

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The Game

Tommy Donaldson scored the only goal of the game when mid-table Romsey Town stunned runaway leaders Hamble Club with a 1-0 victory.

The visitors, who are 11 points clear at the top of the table, have scored 109 goals this season, making them one of the top scorers in the country at this level of football.

Having gained promotion from the Hampshire Premier last season, the Monks have continued to rise up the league and are going for back-to-back promotions, slipping to their third defeat of the season. Romsey on the other hand have had an inconsistent season so far, sitting in 14th with 12 wins from 30 games.

The visitors had the better of the early chances when Mo Nyang flicked his shot high at the near post from a corner.

Left-winger Donaldson had Romsey’s first chance of note when he sent a half volley straight at ‘keeper Rory Anderson.

James Thomson should have put the Monks ahead when he collected a ball sent over the top and forced a good save from Jordan Westbrook before firing the rebound into the side netting.

Romsey were holding on and keeping men behind the ball to stop the attacking threat from Hamble.

Former Barnsley and Portsmouth midfielder Brian Howard sent a free kick into the box for Romsey, but Donaldson was unable to keep the shot on target as he lifted the ball over the bar after Hamble failed to deal with the danger.

The hosts did take the lead through Donaldson who smashed in past Anderson from about eight yards, taking the ball on the bounce and smashing it into the back of the net. The cross came in from the right and Donaldson was waiting at the back post after Ricky Bull had failed to clear.

There was a nervous moment shortly after the opening goal of the game when Kieran Hancock scuffed his pass back to Westbrook and Thomson nipped in and as he squared it to Doug Rowe to score, Romsey were able to get men behind the ball to block and survive a big scare.

As half time approached, Nathan Lynch sent a strong header at goal and Westbrook stretched to claw away but it fell to Lowe to hit another shot that was cleared off the line by Jake Swift.

Hamble continued to dominate the game after the restart as Romsey were pegged back in their own box in the car park end. The Monks couldn’t capitalise on three corners in quick succession as the hosts did well to hold on.

Romsey did manage to break away into the opposition half briefly but Donaldson could only put his shot into the trees behind the goal.

Hamble substitute Cody Wilson sent in a great cross to Nyang who headed wide, another let off for the home side.

Despite all of Hamble’s possession, they looked shaky at the back when Romsey posed an attacking threat. Anderson spilled Donaldson’s cross and Wayne Boud saw his effort cleared before Will Wiseman put his shot straight at the ‘keeper.

Romsey then missed a perfect chance to double the lead when Andy Turner sent a great ball into the box and Donaldson was unmarked with a diving header that was just high of the mark.

The visitors did have the ball in the back of the net when Rowe sent a long diagonal free kick that missed everyone in the box before nestling in the bottom corner, however the linesman flagged for offside despite numerous protests from the Yellows.

Romsey dug in for the final period of the game to secure a well deserved win in front of a bumper Bypass Ground crowd.

2016/17 Games: 96

2016/17 Grounds: 54 (9)

Total Grounds Visited: 150 (40)

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