Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Report: Dorchester Town 2-2 Luton Town - FA Trophy R1

LATE LEVELLER: Charlie Clough

AT times the gulf in class was all too apparent, but not often enough as the giants of non-league Luton Town were outbattled by dogged Dorchester.

The fact that Charlie Clough’s equalising header arrived in injury time couldn’t paper over the cracks as the Hatters’ full strength side flattered to deceive in Dorset.

When Paul Buckle’s full strength side looked good, they were imperious and threatened to take the Magpies to the cleaners, but the visitors’ effort and endeavour soon waned with Phil Simkin’s cup heroes showing how it should be done.

Inspired by their recent FA Cup heroics against League TwoPlymouth, Dorchester didn’t allow their heads to drop when Luton did show their strength.

And in truth, the hosts produced some classy moments of their own that were more than deserving of a second trip to Kenilworth Road in fourdays next week. The task facing Dorchester in the FA Cup 2nd round will seem all the less daunting now they have matched their illustrious opponents.

In many ways it was so close to an unlikely victory for the Magpies and had it not been for a shaky start, a defensive lapse and two fine saves from Luton custodian Mark Tyler we could be talking about another famous upset.

It didn’t start that way though. Dorchester were clearly unnerved by the Hatters who took full advantage, albeit with an element of fortune in the opening minute. Just 58 seconds had passed when Andre Gray’s follow up cannoned off Neil Martin and into the unfortunate Jason Matthews’ net.

A long night was on the horizon as Gray only found the sidenetting when set away down the right and JJ O’Donnell should have found the net on 11 minutes but his tame finish at the far post was deflected wide.

Dorchester eventually settled and found their outball through Jake Gosling on the right who regularly got the better of Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

However, the host’s chance of the half came from a straightforward punt downfield with debutant Richard Logan flicking on for strike partner Ben Watson to race through one-on-one, but Hatters stopper Tyler stood firm and tipped his low finish around the far post at full stretch. 

It was a rare moment where Luton’s rearguard looked like it could be breached during the first half with defender Janos Kovacs in fearsome form, blocking from Logan and winger Sam Malsom before the break.

At the other end, the Hatters faithful will be wishing that Gray had shown similar prowess after weathering the storm, but the former Hinckley United frontman enjoyed a tortuous evening, wasting three glorious chances to double the lead before half time.

And how Luton were to rue those misses as Dorchester got closer to their opponents from the restart and played the more enterprising football.

It is no secret that Dorchester have lacked a cutting edge this season, hence the arrival of more striking options in recent weeks, but they eventually forced the ball home through the determination that has won them so many plaudits.

Overlapping stand-in full back Nathan Walker drilled the ball across the face of goal for Logan to hold up and lay off for onrushing captain Mark Jermyn to crash the ball home, a fitting contribution for a man making his 100th cup appearance for Dorchester.

Logan blazed over the crossbar as the game became tight, but the home side’s heads were in hands as a soft goal seemingly handed Luton victory.

Stuart Fleetwood came off the bench for the ineffectual Gray and merely stood on the shoulder of the last defender, collecting six offsides during a 28-minute appearance, but his predatory instincts paid dividends as he slammed home O’Donnell’s cross-shot with 12 minutes to play.

Clough saw a header from Jon Garcia’s corner acrobatically clawed away by Tyler as Dorchester pushed for a leveller but the Magpies’ tenacity finally paid off in stoppage time. Portsmouth loanee Dan Thompson, whose touch frequently evaded him after replacing Logan, flashed a corner in for Clough to peel away from Simon Ainge and thump home the equaliser.

It was a mini triumph for a side that had given its all and a stern message to Luton, as if they needed it, that it takes more than the best squad on paper to succeed in non-league.

DORCHESTER TOWN: Matthews, Walker, Martin, Clough. Pugh, Gleeson, Gosling, Jermyn, Watson, Logan (Thompson 79), Malsom (Garcia 69). Subs not used: Smeeton, Morgan, Crittenden.
Goals: Jermyn 58, Clough 90+2.

LUTON TOWN: Tyler, Rowe-Turner, Kovacs, Lawless (Dance 86), Rendell, Howells, Ainge, O’Donnell, Smith, Henry, Gray (Fleetwood 62). Subs not used: Beckwith, Walker, Brill.

Goals: Martin (og) 1, Fleetwood 78.

STAR MAN: Mark Tyler (Luton Town)

This match ebbed and flowed and went from the sublime to the silly in its own entertaining way. Tyler takes the award for proving to be the difference. He made two outstanding saves when his side were one up and could well have kept them in the competition. If Luton go on to lift the Trophy, they will look back on this night and thank their keeper. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Rugby Union: Bournemouth 22-27 Launceston - National 2 South

CAPTAIN'S CHARGE: Bournemouth's
Alan Manning drives forward
LAUNCESTON'S last gasp try prevented Bournemouth from making it four wins in a row at Chapel Gate as the Lions failed to hold their nerve as they had against Taunton seven days earlier

In a closely contested match, David Dunn's side were out-muscled by the Cornish All Blacks during the dying embers of this midtable clash.

The defeat leaves newly promoted Lions 9th in National 2 South as the season approaches its halfway stage, though hands Launceston a healthier advantage just above Bournemouth in the standings. 

Dunn's charges are without a fixture for three weeks now following the demise of Rugby Lions at the start of the season and a blank weekend scheduled. 

When Bournemouth return to action, they will be confident of returning to winning ways with a home fixture against Lydney who have lost every match since their opening day success over still winless Barking

*The full match report for the Bournemouth Echo can be found here, while a range of match images courtesy of photographer Denis Murphy can be found at his website here

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Report: Verwood Tn 3-2 Lymington Tn - Wessex Premier

OFF!: A bad night for

IN a match fraught with indecision and inconsistency, traits that were not limited to the players, discipline was always likely to win through over desperation.

And so it proved as Adie Arnold’s Verwood Town emerged from the fog that slowly settled over Potterne Park and the red mist of struggling Lymington to secure three valuable Wessex League points.

Despite taking an 8th minute lead, the Potters fell behind to two quality strikes within three first half minutes, but after levelling before the break the hosts battled their way to victory in an otherwise dour second half.

Following the frenetic pace of the first 45 minutes, Verwood’s calmer approach deservedly paid dividends as Lymington, winless in 14 leaguematches since their opening day victory at Bournemouth Poppies, cracked under the pressure in a closely fought clash.

Merl Anteney-Wright may have been at the hub of the Linnets’ downfall in the second half, but in reality problems began to surface from the outset.

Verwood started the brighter with Anteney-Wright hacking Ben Kelly’s effort from a corner off the line shortly before Nathan Saxby’s driving run ended with Jack Satterley seeing his shot deflected wide. The Potters’ pressure was soon rewarded, though, as Mike Haskell bundled home the resultant corner inches from the goal line.

Lymington boss Andy Leader pulled no punches, screaming through the thick haze at his defenders “That’s embarrassing!” He wasn’t wrong.

But the visitors’ frustration continued to boil over as they tried to work their way back into the game with most of the venom fired at dithering referee Paul Knight. Leader seemed to lambast the match official with every whistle, setting the tone for a barrage of dissent from the visitors during the second half.

It was a shame, because the two goals in three minutes that turned the game on its head were as good as you’re likely to see at this level. First, a break in numbers saw Jordan Rogers burst through the middle and lay the ball off for James Fry who found Elliott Wykes at the far post. A calm touch was followed by a cool finish as Wykes nestled the ball in the bottom near corner.

The shell-shocked hosts then conceded another as Lymington broke again, working the ball from left to right with Jack Igglesden twisting back inside from the corner of the penalty area before blasting inside Chris Lynch’s far post.

Despite the setback, Verwood continued to probe while the visitors continued to moan. Granted, some of Knights’ decisions were questionable, but with a precious lead in their hands, Leader’s men should have lived up to their gaffer’s name instead of squabbling with the man in the middle.

With greater assurance on the ball, it came as no surprise when Verwood equalised before half time with a goal equal to Lymington’s high quality strikes. A well worked move down the right saw the ball pulled back to Satterley on the edge of the area who sent a rasping drive in off Stuart Williamson’s left hand post.

However, anyone expecting the same entertainment levels during the second half would have found the disappointment bite as hard as the chilling temperatures as Verwood lost their impetus.

Simple balls from left to right caught the Potters backline out too often, but Igglesden and substitute Roy Vinor spurned presentable openings either side of James Fry managing to hit the corner flag from a promising position.

It was from there that the frustrations boiled over with Anteney-Wright wrapping an early Christmas present for the hosts.

First, he crashed through Satterley out on the right after taking the ball with team mate Williamson lucky to escape with a booking for a lengthy verbal assault on referee Knight.

The real punishment was still to come though as Kris Anderton’s free kick was glanced across goal by Charlie Gajic, finding the top corner to add to Lymington’s disgust.

The visitors became ragged and Satterley almost sealed the victory when his thunderbolt rattled the post with three minutes left, but there was still time for Anteney-Wright to blot his copybook further, getting in a tangle and stamping on Verwood’s top scorer right in front of Knight who had no choice but to dismiss the fuming full back.

Knight found it difficult to leave the pitch at full time with Lymington skipper Luke Ansell, goalkeeper Williamson and staff from the visitors’ bench having plenty to say, but in truth they had only themselves to blame.

The Potters were worthy winners, not just for their mental strength in a testing match, but for creating the better chances. Back-to-back wins sees Arnold’s men climb to 14th in the table with a nice gap emerging between themselves and the danger zone. Lymington may wish to take note.

*A SLIDESHOW from the match by Verwood photographer Roy Mortimer can be found here.

VERWOOD TOWN: Lynch, Evans, Kelly, Delaney, Dyer, Saxby, Gajic, Webb, Haskell, Satterley, Hill (Anderton 46). Unused subs: Smith, Murray, Roades, J Jones.

Goals: Haskell 8, Satterley 40, Gajic 76.

LYMINGTON TOWN: Williamson, Stacey, Anteny-Wright, Baker, Barnes-Andrews, Pancaldi, Igglesden, Ansell, Rogers (Vinor 46), Fry (Simms 77), Wykes. Unused subs: R Jones, Huggins.

Goals: Wykes 23, Igglesden 25.

STAR MAN: Jack Satterley (Verwood Town)

A constant danger, working hard to cause an error prone defence plenty of problems. Could, maybe should, have had more goals. Occasionally, the ball didn’t quite run for him, or the post denied him a wonder strike, but decisively got on the scoresheet at an important time and was a menace until the final whistle. Just ask Merl Anteney-Wright. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Report: Bournemouth RFC 30-27 Taunton RFC - National 2 South

Dan Pollard

BOURNEMOUTH were forced to battle right to the end as tenacious Taunton failed to read the script and very nearly tore it into shreds in the closing stages.

Seemingly in cruise control against 14 men, David Dunn’s Lions almost threw away a third straight victory at Chapel Gate in the last ten minutes as the Titans clawed their way back from a 30-8 deficit to secure two bonus points.

The visitors ended the match with a higher try count than Dunn’s charges and only a controversial high tackle by Dan Connolly on Aron Struminski in injury time prevented a late collapse with the Titans wing wizard set to add a decisive fifth try.

Taunton were incensed, especially as a high tackle had seen their skipper Jemba Bull dismissed outright before the hour mark.

But on reflection it was difficult to argue that Bournemouth didn’t deserve their victory, and with some more accuracy in key areas, a slice of luck and some more favourable refereeing decisions earlier in the game, they could have been out of sight.

Key to another important home win was the performance of Dan Pollard, who not only succeeded with 100% of his six kicks, registering half of the Lions’ points total, but the stand-in fly half’s tackling at vital moments was timed to perfection and released the pressure when Bournemouth found themselves on the back foot.

Pollard kicked an early penalty, but with pace out wide and good handling in the opening exchanges, Taunton were a threat from the outset and a sustained spell of pressure ended with  Greg Charlton’s try on 10 minutes after choosing to drive for the line instead of kick from a favourable position.

Bournemouth were rattled and slightly late into a few tackles before grabbing a vital try with their first incisive move of the match. Charlie Grace found Pollard who set Connolly free down the left to score with plenty of room to spare.

And after landing the conversion, Lions’ number 10 sent the ball sailing between the posts with a tricky looking penalty earned by Ben Featherstone’s tenacity to give the hosts a 13-5 lead after 22 minutes.

Bournemouth could have added to their score, but Alan Manning was denied by some desperate defending while a loose pass from Paul O’Brien with the try line in sight left a few heads in hands.

A second try wasn’t far away through as Gavin Hart flung the ball out to Ben Stewart who marched over the line with options still available to his left. But Bournemouth still had to dig deep to maintain their half time advantage, Pollard managing to wrestle Struminski to the floor after Taunton man had evaded two challenges.

A match that had ebbed and flowed was suddenly dominated by the hosts after the restart as Lions threatened to run riot. Sam Hardcastle will still be wondering how he didn’t score after bursting onto his own kick, outjumping man mountain Chris Bentley and darting towards the line before dropping the ball at the vital moment. The crowd were still celebrating while the unfortunate error dawned on the Lions lynchpin.

As Bournemouth took control, Bull was sent off for a cynical tackle and the match appeared to be sewn up when Featherstone eased in for the third try.

Matters got worse for the visitors as replacement Sam Prior was sent to cool off for ten minutes on the hour mark, but against 13 men Lions elected to kick three more points, taking the match to 30-8 instead of pushing for a fourth try and bonus point.

Whether that decision provided Taunton with incentive, or whether it was Lions’ saving grace is subject to opinion, but two men light, the Titans found their resolve.

It was still going to take a moment of magic to light the blue touch paper and it was duly provided by livewire Struminski, running all of 35 yards down the left and cutting back inside to power his way through.

The returning Prior set up Sam Richardson to unsettle the hosts even further with four minutes left on the clock before the nerves really started jangle when Gary Kingdom intercepted an uncharacteristic sloppy pass from Pollard and ran in the easiest try of his career.

And with the gazelle like Struminski leaving three players in his wake as the clock passed 80, it seemed as though Taunton would complete the mother of all comebacks, but all of a sudden Connolly’s arm appeared, hooking his opponent to the floor with a move that Big Daddy would have been proud of in his heyday. 

It was the definition of taking one for the team. Calls for a penalty try came from visiting players and fans alike and Connolly looked mightily relieved as referee Keith Lewis merely signalled for a penalty.

It proved to be the final talking point of an entertaining afternoon as the Lions eventually recovered to dig deep. After taking such a big lead, they simply had to.

*Bournemouth Director of Rugby David Dunn shared his thoughts with the Bournemouth Echo at full time, feeling that the referee’s decisions balanced out over the game. Click here for the full interview.

BOURNEMOUTH: Trow, O'Brien, Connolly, Chilsett, Stewart, Pollard, Hardcastle, Featherstone (Carrel 59), Manning, Firetto (Peart 71), Seward (Wilford 71), Forrest, Grace, Cawley, Hart. Unused replacements: Higgins, Pearce.

TAUNTON: Kingdom, Hartley, Wilcockson, Bull, Struminski, Yapp, Conway, Morgan, Beddard (Prior 54), K Davies (Howells 67), Charlton, Bentley, P Davies (Gatford 54), Lee, Richardson. Replacements also featured: Turner, Plummer.


Bournemouth: Tries – Connolly 18, Stewart 37, Featherstone 55.
Penalties – Pollard 7, 23, 62.
Conversions – Pollard 19, 37, 56.

Taunton: Tries – Charlton 10, Struminski 70, Richardson, 76, Kingdom 79.
Penalty – Kingdom 28.
Conversions – Kingdom 71, 80.