BUCS Western 6A League
Team Solent Seconds 1
University of South Wales Fifths 0
With Team Solent’s first team losing to Bath in the cup two weeks ago, it gave the Sparks a Wednesday off due to today’s opponents Bristol also progressing in the cup.
However the second string still had plenty to play for in the BUCS Western 6A league. Sitting second from bottom on 12 points, ten points ahead of Marjons Thirds, a win against USW would put them level with the league leaders, but second on head to head (which comes before goal difference in BUCS league).
The six-team league couldn’t be tighter following today’s results with USW Fifths, Plymouth Thirds and Solent seconds all on 15 points with both Winchester thirds and fourths on 13 points with Marjons already relegated.
This was the first time watching the Solent seconds play and they were on the top pitch at Test Park (pitch three I believe). This is the third game I have seen on this pitch, the first being way back in February 2013 when the first team beat Bournemouth University Thirds (AECC) on penalties in the cup. The second visit to this pitch was the aforementioned penalty shootout defeat to Bath just two weeks ago.
Either way, a game is a game and this was my 20th trip to Test Park this season and game 101, I was just praying for a goal.
Former Cardiff City youth player Tyler Roche scored six minutes from time to put Solent well in the running for promotion with a 1-0 victory over league leaders University of South Wales Fifths.
USW will be forever remembered for their bizarre squad numbers, with the lowest number, 21, belonging to ‘keeper James Gill, with the outfield numbers ranging from 77-104 (yes 104! Worn by Rob Turner) with two number 78s, distinguished by black numbering on one player and white numbering on the other.
Solent started the game brightly with Roche crossing in for Yann N’Guessen who managed to miss the target completely from a good shooting opportunity.
N’Guessen was the playmaker in Solent’s next chance of note when he fed the ball through to Bernardo Afonso who slid the ball into the feet of visiting ‘keeper Gill.
The visitors went close to taking the lead when Ryan Williams-Owen rattled the crossbar with a cracking first time shot from the edge of the box.
Gill had to be alert when Roche squared the ball inside to Ebenezer Onafujabi to shoot from distance but straight into the hands of the USW shot stopper.
USW’s Kieran McLean (wearing number 92) then poked a shot at goal which Solent ‘keeper Tatsuya Zosen managed to hold on to.
Solent were resorting to shooting from range and just before the break, central defender Gharsalli Sami found himself close enough to try a shot but Gill managed to hold on.
Ten minutes into the second half, coach Dion Gibbs (who has featured as a ‘keeper for various Solent sides) came off the bench and replaced Afonso in attack.
This meant that their was four recognised goalkeepers on the pitch with Gill and Zosen donning the gloves at each end with Gibbs in attack and Max Boulter playing in midfield for Solent having played in goal for the BUCs first team.
Solent went close to opening the scoring around the hour mark when Roche crossed in and Steve McKenna and Gibbs both had efforts blocked before Onafujabi smashed his shot against the crossbar with Gibbs failing to control his shot for the rebound sailing over the bar.
Solent were pressing but it looked like the game was going to be goalless when Gill made a great save with his chest to deny Neel Shah who had found some space from a corner to head towards goal.
The goal did come on 84 minutes when Solent attacked on the break with Onufujabi progressing into the opposition half before releasing the ball to Gibbs who switched to Roche in acres of space on the right wing to slot into the far corner of the goal in off the post to round off a perfect counter attack.
Minutes later, Solent attacked again on the break, this time, N’Guessan running nearly the full length of the pitch and instead of squaring to Roche for an easy tap in, he scooped the shot wide.
USW were awarded a free kick just inside the attacking half and Jonathan Farmer fired the ball into the box and it fell to Williams-Owen curled the ball into the corner for what looked like the equaliser, however the flag had gone up on the far side and the goal was chalked off.
As the clocked ticked into stoppage time, Solent hung on defending as a unit as USW bombarded the box looking for the goal that was never to come.
2016/17 Games: 101
2016/17 Grounds: 57 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 153 (40)