Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Report: Lymington Tn 3-1 Bournemouth - Wessex Premier

boss Ken Vaughan

AS much as Bournemouth Poppies will be sick of the sight of Lymington Town for one season, Ken Vaughan’s underachievers could learn a lot from the Southampton Road strugglers.

Andy Leader’s men completed a Wessex Premier double over the Poppies to put back to back league wins together for the first time this season and move out of the bottom two.

Their six point haul from matches against Bournemouth doubles their win tally for the campaign as the hard working New Foresters turned their visitors over through sheer determination.

Town shocked the Poppies with a 3-0 win at Victoria Park on the opening day but failed to win again in the league until December.

Leader was forced to completely rebuild his new side over the summer and is finally starting to reap the rewards, but in truth this was another Bournemouth display that was well short of what was required as inconsistency continues to frustrate Vaughan.

Having reached the FA Vase quarter-finals last term, Poppies were expected to mount a serious challenge this season with the likes of Scott Joyce and Fawzi Saadi on their team sheet.

But Joyce’s injury woes, along with the loss of dependable defender Wayne Crutcher to work commitments and popular keeper Max Frampton to Christchurch have left Vaughan juggling players at an alarming rate.

And the inconsistency in selection has made its way to the pitch, a fact proved by Poppies’ latest setback.

The visitors’ defence were absent without leave as Roy Viner and Luke Watts missed gilt-edged chances with close range headers in the opening ten minutes before Sam James flashed a shot narrowly wide of the far post with Kenny Vaughan Jnr stranded.

Former Bashley midfielder Matt Vokes waltzed through the middle of the park with ease to flash a shot just wide as the Poppies rarely looked like competing and it came as no surprise when Lymington finally got their breakthrough via another gift.

A poor clearance came back into the penalty area where Fawzi Saadi needlessly clattered into Vokes to concede the softest of spot-kicks which James duly despatched.

Watts cut into acres of space and floated an effort just wide and Poppies failed to heed the warning as another Viner effort whistled across goal on the half hour.

Bournemouth finally found their composure, stringing some passes together before the break but made little impact until the restart.

But Lymington were left to rue missing their multitude of chances two minutes after the break as Poppies hit back and seemed set to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Saadi made up for his earlier aberration by planting Connor Phillips’ cut back low to Stuart Williamson’s left, levelling the match much to the relief of the visiting contingent. Poppies had got away with their first half pummelling, or so they thought.

The visitors were on the front foot but got caught by a sucker punch just after the hour as a long throw found Viner at the near post to turn Ollie Phillipson-Masters and rifle home via the crossbar.

It was another preventable goal and it hit Poppies hard. Vaughan’s men never recovered from the setback as a buoyant Town sought victory with gusto.

And the win the hosts craved was finally sealed with seven minutes to play as a half cleared corner fell to defender James Fry on the edge of the penalty area whose tame effort should have been saved but crept past Vaughan Jnr. 

However, there could be little argument that both teams got exactly what they deserved and the contrasting looks on the players' faces as they trudged off the pitch told its own story.

While they have struggled this season, Lymington have never thrown in the towel and their recent run is testament to that. As for Poppies, the white flag has been waved too often by talented but, at times, half-hearted players. Those behind the scenes at Victoria Park deserve better.

*POPPIES boss Ken Vaughan blasted his players in his post-match interview for the Bournemouth Echo. His thoughts can be found here.

LYMINGTON TOWN: Williamson, Baker, Blake (Gray 90+2), Fry, Ansell, Rizzo, James (Sen 70), Vokes, R Jones, Viner (Fairhurst 80), Watts.

Goals: James 25(p), Viner 62, Fry 83.

BOURNEMOUTH: Vaughan, Ayrton, Lockyer, Ward, Batchelor, Saadi (Bautista 85), Martinez (Warren 73), Phillipson-Masters, Joyce, Caslake (Clarke 64), Phillips. Unused subs: Watt, N Jones (g/k).

Goal: Saadi 47.

STAR MAN: Rhys Jones (Lymington Town)

Hard to pick anyone out from a fine team display, but Lymington’s pocket rocket worked tirelessly and showed more desire to win the ball against players with greater physical stature. Watts and James were a thorn in Poppies’ side all night too.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Report: Bashley 3-1 Kettering Town - Southern Premier

Rob Gradwell

FROM zero to hero in seven short days, Bashley fans just don’t know what to expect from Rob Gradwell.

The much-maligned striker’s abject display at Totton was the tip of an all-too-familiar iceberg, but his undoubted effort was finally matched with end product in this clash as he saved his side from an embarrassing defeat to basement boys Kettering Town.

Since scoring within a minute on his debut against Gosport Borough, the former Basingstoke forward has hardly wowed the crowd at Bashley Road.

And when he appeared from the bench with half an hour to play on Saturday, questions were asked as the hosts were in command but still seeking the killer touch.

Visiting centre half Henry Eze had been a vital component in Kettering’s ability to stifle the hosts, but the man mountain’s life became much more difficult as soon as Gradwell entered the fray and it became a matter of time before Bash blew the house down.

The Poppies dominated the opening 45 minutes, making the best of a sticky pitch, playing with verve and vigour against Frank Gray’s men who were clearly devoid of confidence.

Returning loanee Lewis Wilson added thrust to Town’s attack, showing strength and pace against Bashley’s backline.

The Northampton Town protégé’s snapshot on the turn forced Bash keeper Stuart Moore into a fine low save as early as the fourth minute before catching Ian Richardson in possession to draw another flying stop from the on-loan Reading custodian.

Both teams looked edgy and prone to error, but Kettering’s more incisive play saw them deservedly take the lead when Wilson latched onto Eze’s long ball, outmanoeuvring Richardson and stretching to prod beyond the on-rushing Moore.

The visitors gradually sat deeper once they got their noses in front but try as they might, everything Bash threw into the penalty area was comfortably dealt with by Eze with the home team looking visibly drained.

Bashley upped the ante after the restart but efforts on goal were speculative rather than spectacular as Josh Casey drew routine saves from Yannick Nlate.

That was, of course, until the hero of the hour arrived, pulling Eze all over the place with the rest of Kettering’s backline crumbling.

The space the burly front-man created allowed the likes of Casey and Charlie Knight to get on the ball and the former Salisbury City duo combined for Knight to test Nlate with a fizzing effort across goal before Gradwell’s header was hacked off the line by Chris Logan.

The leveller wasn’t far away though and it was that man Gradwell who made the breakthrough with some sublime skill, taking a great touch from Casey’s ball before playing a one-two with James Stokoe and sending a chip sailing over Nlate to equalise.

There was only going to be one winner from here as Logan again saved his side by denying Stokoe on the goal line, but Kettering never truly cleared and Knight cut in from the left to drill across Nlate, this time finding enough power to beat the on-loan Stoke City keeper.

Kettering still had their chances with Wilson shooting tamely at Moore and Ben Ford’s chip landing just over the crossbar as Bash threatened to implode.

But the persistence of Gradwell paid dividends again late on as he chased a lost cause, dispossessing Eze in the corner and rolling the ball back for Casey to cross for Stokoe whose far post volley settled the contest.

Bash will be hoping to see more of Gradwell’s great side. A meagre return of three goals in eight winless matches was suddenly matched in 14 second half minutes to hand Gray’s men a seven point cushion over the Southern Premier’s relegation places.

With the way Bash have battled in recent weeks, the size of that cushion surely depends on the goals for column.

Over to you Rob.

*BASHLEY boss Frank Gray shares his post match thoughts with the Bournemouth Echo here

BASHLEY: Moore, Strickland, Knight, Finlay, Middleton (Oliver 69), Richardson, Casey, Colson, Stokoe, Gamble, Hill (Gradwell 61). Unused subs: Stephenson, Gazzard, Kearn (g/k). 

Goals: Gradwell 74, Knight 77, Stokoe 88.

KETTERING TOWN: Nlate, Dossou (Hilliere 55, Ghaysi 66), Fox, Logan, Eze, Johnston, Noubissie, Hicks, Griffiths, Wilson, Ford. Unused subs: Pitharas, King, Muzvimbiri.

Goal: Wilson 28.

STAR MAN: Rob Gradwell (Bashley)

Tough call with Knight and Casey showing creativity as well as work rate and performing well, but Gradwell made the difference. Bashley’s failure to score goals seemed set to haunt them at a time they could least afford it until Gradwell came in. Always works hard and nice to see things finally click into place for the big man. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Betting blog: Southern Premier - Saturday 9th February '13

THIS week’s selection brings together the Southern Premier’s super scoring Saints with one other for a tasty looking treble.

While their form may be patchy, both St Neots Town and St Albans City have no problems finding the net on home soil with 22 and 18 goals in their last eight games respectively and with both clubs facing low scoring opponents from the lower reaches of the table, both should be backed at 4/5.

City host the divisions worst attack, Redditch United (18 goals in 22 matches), while Town entertain Frome Town (24 goals in 25 matches) and should secure all three points and a double more than trebles your stake.

More ambitious punters can complete a better than 9/2 treble by adding Weymouth who should bounce back from a midweek beating at AFC Totton with a home win over out-of-sorts Bedworth United at 8/11. The Terras home form is far from perfect, but they do tend to see off struggling teams at the Wessex Stadium.

If you fancy a bit more risk, Bedford Town will be hopeful of seeing off free-falling Chippenham Town at 8/11, but as we found last week, the Eagles most consistent attribute is their inconsistency.

TOP TIP: No certainties, all as likely to let you down as the others, so a more moderate stake on the treble looks sensible at around 9/2

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Report: Brockenhurst 5-1 Ringwood Tn - Wessex Div One

ON THE UP: Brock maintained their
title tilt against Ringwood Town.

DECLAN Edwards stole the headlines as Brockenhurst's debutant striker grabbed a hat-trick in a one sided yet action packed battering of Ringwood Town.

The Badgers snared the prolific marksman from championship rivals Team Solent where he had plundered 14 goals in 16 matches, but after hitting the ground running on his Grigg Lane debut, Edwards' arrival appears to have swung the Wessex One title race in Brock's favour.

The home side, inspired by veteran Warren Kenna who controlled the game from the middle of the park, bludgeoned their way past their struggling visitors at will as luckless Ringwood conceded two penalties and saw Liam Edgar carried off with a broken foot before Sean Leadbetter was given a straight red card in injury time.

From the moment Edwards found the net on 10 minutes, lashing Darren Ritchie's throughball home on the half volley, the result that saw the home side move up to second in Wessex One was never in doubt.

And when former Romsey full back Edgar, who had been in the thick of the action during a torrid opening 20 minutes, clattered former professional Kenna in the penalty area his evening ended prematurely.

Brock’s elder statesman endured a six minute delay while Edgar was carried off before seeing his fierce spot-kick beaten away by Jon Page, though Edwards was on hand to slam home the rebound.  

In a rare break, plucky Ringwood grabbed a lifeline as substitute Lee Bellows' deflected effort crept into the bottom corner, however, their joy was short lived as another looping ball into the left channel saw Kenna finish with aplomb, atoning for his earlier miss and restoring the two goal cushion.

The Badgers could have added their haul before the interval with winger Will Tickle twice brushing the frame of the goal and having a shot blocked by stand-in full back Liam Taylor while Ritchie and Edwards spurned further openings.

After the break, Brock’s tempo dropped but they continued to create chances with Kenna adding his second and the hosts' fourth, opening up and picking his spot low to Page's right from more than 20 yards.

As the match threatened to peter out substitute Jamie Rogers added impetus to the home side’s attack, chipping wide when well placed and seeing a goal chalked off for offside before drawing the foul that finally saw Edwards claim the match ball.

Tired Ringwood defender Tony Rolls, playing his second ninety minutes of the day after turning out for Brockenhurst College, cut across Rogers to make a spirited yet clumsy challenge and Edwards drilled home from 12 yards to complete the scoring.

To cap off a bad night, former Bournemouth Poppies midfielder Leadbetter challenged the assistant referee over the decision rather too vociferously and was dismissed, earning a three match ban in stoppage time of a match that was already beyond his team.

There could be no complaints over the result, and in Edwards and Kenna the Badgers have two players who could make all the difference in this season’s title tilt with the key showdown coming a week on Saturday when they entertain leaders Cowes Sports.

Cup runs saw the Grigg Lane outfit fade from contention last season, but if they get enough games from their two big hitters it is hard to bet against Brock this time around.

BROCKENHURST: O’Rourke, Young, Maher, Ritchie, Marden, Vinton, Kenna (Landers 73), Barker, Spinney (Rogers 69), Edwards, Tickle (Clarke 69). Unused subs: Morse, Man.

Goals: Edwards 10, 28, 90 (p), Kenna 40, 63.

RINGWOOD TOWN: Page, Edgar (Bellows 28), Osman, Rolls, Pearson, Leadbetter, Taylor, Hancox, Barwood, Steer (Burnett 60), Midson (Nabney 73).

Goal: Bellows 39.

STAR MAN: Warren Kenna (Brockenhurst)

Controlled this game throughout, pinging balls and bombing forward at will, piling pressure on Ringwood relentlessly until they inevitably cracked. His quality will see Brock ease past most teams at this level. Edwards’ hat-trick and Rolls’ never-say-die attitude ran Kenna close for the award, but the veteran unsurprisingly was the key that opened the Ringwood door time and time again.  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Report: Bashley 0-0 Cambridge City - Southern Premier

STAR MAN: Bashley's
Gary Middleton

Substance very nearly trumped style in a game of cat and mouse between Bashley and Cambridge City, but in truth any more than a share of the spoils would have been a travesty for these shot-shy sides.

The Lilywhites, on the back of five away wins out of six in the Southern Premier, produced flowing football at times but drew just one save from Bash custodian Stuart Moore as the hosts harassed and harried in the style expected from boss Frank Gray.

And the New Forest outfit arguably had the better chances to win despite spending much of the night chasing the ball, though their Achilles Heel of failing to find the net continues to stifle progress.

The Scot will be pleased with his side’s sixth clean sheet of the campaign, but a seventh home league match without scoring offers the biggest reason for Bashley’s perilous position.

More familiar strike pairing Mark Gamble and James Stokoe handed Gray’s team more punch in the final third, but the defensive shift that Bashley’s goal-getters had to put in amongst City’s slick passing meant opportunities were limited.

Had Gamble managed to catch Cambridge cold in the second minute it could have been so different, but after latching onto George Colson’s throughball, the former Farnborough man saw his low drilled effort fizz wide of the far post.

City soon recovered and signalled their intent by pressing the hosts back for long spells with Mitchell Bryant at the thick of the action while Ieuan Lewis’ deflected effort forced Moore to adjust his dive and make his solitary stop of the night.

Quite how Adam Marriott missed with a far post header from Jackson Ramm’s drilled cross midway through the first half is anyone’s guess, but it epitomised the kind of evening City were in for.

If it wasn’t wayward finishing, it was brave Bash defending as Matt Finlay, a late replacement for the injured Tim Stephenson, denied Marriott a one-on-one opportunity with Moore.

At the other end, visiting keeper Zac Barrett had trouble with a few routine balls before clawing Colson’s far post header away from Charlie Knight’s cross on the stroke of half time.

Both sides found another gear and played at a higher tempo after the restart, but it was Cambridge who continued to keep the ball well and gradually pressed Bash back further and further.

The hosts were almost caught out when Ian Richardson sold Moore short with a backpass, but the young Reading loanee blocked at the feet of Marriott before Gary Middleton cleared any lingering danger and Bash nearly reaped the rewards of their resolute rearguard action in the final ten minutes.

Gamble’s angled effort drew a fine low save from Barrett before Stokoe’s flicked header beat the City stopper but bounced just wide of the far post as the hosts tried to complete something of a smash and grab.

Two teams with two very different styles ended this match with same problem – both goalkeepers had far too little to do – but it is hard to imagine that either manager will be too disheartened with a solid display and a point that may yet have a bearing on whether they meet in this division again next season.  

*BASHLEY boss Frank Gray gives the Bournemouth Echo his post match thoughts here

BASHLEY: Moore, Strickland, Oliver (Knight 10), Finlay, Middleton, Richardson, Casey, Colson, Stokoe, Gamble, Hill. Unused subs: Gradwell, Foster, Gazzard, Kearn (g/k). 

CAMBRIDGE CITY: Barrett, Ramm, Blanchett, Theobald, Chaffey, Nightingale, Lewis, Prada, Bryant (Midgley 78), Marriott, Fuller. Unused subs: Cambridge, Cleaver, Pepper.

STAR MAN: Gary Middleton (Bashley)

As always, in the right place at the right time, winning headers, charging down shots and more importantly, mopping up behind when loose balls dropped in the penalty area. Narrowly beats Matt Finlay to the award on a night where all of Bashley’s back three did so much to stifle City’s attack. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Report: AFC Totton 2-0 Bashley - Southern Premier

Totton's Stefan Brown (centre)
THE result and the way it came about may have been true to form but it could, and at times should, have been so different as Bashley slipped to derby day defeat at AFC Totton.

The way the visitors went about their task and rattled their local rivals was less predictable than the final outcome, though in the end, Bash were architects of their own downfall from the outset.

While former Bash boss Steve Riley, now in charge at the Testwood Stadium, appears to be getting the balance right, at least at home, the visiting fans baulked at a Bash selection that ultimately didn’t work.

With just two points dropped in nine home matches, the Stags chief immediately bolstered his striking options in the week he found out that AFC Bournemouth loanee Jordan Chiedozie would be on the sidelines for a few weeks.

And the move to bring back fans favourite Stefan Brown on loan from Basingstoke instantly paid dividends with Totton’s livewire creating space on the left, swinging in a cross for strike partner Richard Gillespie to cleverly peel away from his marker and glance home at the far post.

Bash, winless in six matches and having not played for four weeks because of postponements, did not give in, but their agonising lack of fire power left the men in yellow tearing their hair out after largely dominating the rest of the half.

Striker Mark Gamble lined up in midfield while burly front-man James Stokoe warmed the bench with winger Charlie Knight partnering an out-of-sorts Rob Gradwell in attack.

The visitors passed the ball neatly on a tricky surface and frequently rattled the Stags defence.

But Gradwell, try as he might, lacked the sharpness to really get at Ross Bottomley and Jamie Whisken and failed to provide the option at the end of Bashley’s decent moves.

Gray’s charges could well have levelled before the break, indeed it was the least they deserved, but their opportunities came from set pieces with defender Gary Middleton offering Bashley’s biggest goal threat.

The reliable stopper, who lashed home an injury time winner against Bedworth in September, thumped an early corner over the crossbar before being frustrated by a series of unbelievable blocks and saves on the half hour.

Brad Strickland’s bobbling centre was lashed towards goal before being half cleared by Bottomley, a feat that the ex-Bash defender repeated moments later with Middleton nailed on to score the rebound, but Totton keeper Gareth Barfoot clawed the effort away despite being sat on the ground when the fierce drive came in.

Barfoot came to the rescue to stop Knight scoring directly from a corner while at the other end, Brown’s dipping half volley was spectacularly saved by Stuart Moore on the stroke of half time.

Totton survived the onslaught and came out with renewed solidarity after the restart with the game gradually losing its sting.

Bash could have levelled when Barfoot dropped a routine ball but neither Strickland nor nor impressive debutant George Colson could take advantage at the far post.

Brown’s energy kept the hosts ticking over in attack as Gradwell cut an increasingly isolated figure at the other end and Bash ran out of steam.

Knight made space for himself to connect with Ian Oliver’s cross from the left but it summed his and Bashley’s afternoon up when his close range header ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal.

And with 12 minutes to go, the match was put to bed in fine fashion when Jonathan Davies unleashed a superb volley from the edge of the area that sailed past Moore, finding the top corner following Whisken’s knockdown.

The game had gone by the time substitute James Stokoe was pushed up front, but even then he gave a glimpse of what might have been with smart control of a throughball and tidy finish ruled out by a marginal offside decision.

Even with stark contrasts in form, the margins are tight in the Southern League Premier Division. With Bashley now three points off the relegation places, having scored two goals in their last six matches, fans will be crying out to see the likes of Gamble and Stokoe in more advanced roles after the alternative plan failed in somewhat tepid fashion.

*TOTTON boss Steve Riley talks to the Bournemouth Echo about AFC Bournemouth loanees Baily Cargill and Jordan Chiedozie as well as the match and Bashley's plight here

*A FULL range of match photos from photographer Denis Murphy can be found here

AFC TOTTON: Barfoot, R Hill, Cargill, Bottomley, Whisken, Brown (Rudd 85), Pettefer, Davies (Roberts 79), Coutts, Gillespie (Whitley 66), Gosney. Unused subs: Oldring, R Casey (g/k).

Goals: Gillespie 3, Davies 78. 

BASHLEY: Moore, Strickland, Oliver, Stephenson, Middleton, Richardson, J Casey (T Hill 82), Colson, Gradwell (Finlay 76), Gamble (Stokoe 65), Knight. Unused subs: Foster, Kearn (g/k).

STAR MAN: Stefan Brown (AFC Totton)

Could do no wrong on his return. It may not have been his, or indeed Totton’s, most polished performance, but has come in after not getting game time at Basingstoke and showed few signs of rustiness. Kept going all game and provided the attacking impetus for the hosts to seal an important win. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Betting blog: Southern Premier - Saturday 2nd February 2013

DESPITE last week's success, the form in the Southern League Premier Division looks less clearcut this Saturday.

There is one stand-out fixture on the card with AFC Totton at home again. The Stags have racked up eight wins out of nine matches at the Testwood Stadium as Steve Riley's side take on his former club Bashley

In the reverse fixture, Bash were eased aside 3-0 in November and Totton look good value to complete a double at 5/6 despite the visitors' decent away form. Frank Gray's charges have not played for four weeks and are winless in six matches.

Beyond that, finding certainties looks a lot tougher this week though, so we're looking to the division's form team, Stourbridge, for inspiration. 

After trouncing Hitchin 4-1 last week, the promotion chasing Glassboys have a tougher test with the unpredictable Bedford Town visiting Amblecote.

Braver punters can add them (3/4) to play-off chasers Arlesey Town (3/5), who host a St Albans side whose form is beginning to drift, and Barwell (6/11) who, despite some patchy home form, should prove too strong for Hitchin Town in the battle of the Canaries. 

TOP TIP: The safe bet is a sizeable single on Totton before the odds are cut, or take all four teams for odds of nearly 7/1.