On our recent Saturday match Andover Men’s 1s travels took them down south to the lovely Portsmouth.
After both teams winning last time out, both resulting in a 4-1 score line, neither side could be classed as favourites but without Stalewarts George Allmark and Ben Anthony missing for a second week, Andover would need to provide the same energy as the previous game against a stronger and more confident opponent.
With the first half underway, Andover dominated possession, moving the ball easily and evading the opposition but producing little up top, despite Short Corners being won after hard work from Dan Allen and Jamie Hacker to provide them. Andover’s dominance was proving futile as another short corner went against us after Angus Haigh played the ball into a foot for which the umpires missed, only for the play to continue and a Portsmouth counter attack to run, resulting in their first Penalty Corner of the match. Portsmouth’s experienced players orchestrated their corner well enough to find space on the right side of the D and found a gap through Goal Keeper, Will Hemming’s near post. 1-0.
Andover played the 5 minutes after the goal with 10 men after an ill-disciplined outburst resulted in a sanction for Mark Eggington. However this allowed Oliver Woolf to commence his presence on the pitch for his competitive debut for the season after a short injury lay-off, providing his cool head and undeniable aggression to hold off the opposition’s strategic offence on the Andover goal.
The second half started slow for Andover as the sticky Portsmouth pitch didn’t provide any bounce to allow Captain Harry Trott, nor Liam O’Sullivan to work their stick skill magic in the middle of the field. Nevertheless, Andover continued in the same fashion as the first half with control over the game, transferring from the left with Dave Edwards through Haigh and Woolf, finding Eggington in space on the right hand side. Unfortunately, Andover began to become frustrated with inconsistencies in the umpires decisions and therefore a slow decline in composure was clearly visible, as Hacker threw in a reckless challenge after not been given a decision and was fairly shown a yellow card for his negligence. But this perhaps switched Andover back into their game as not long after, the away team’s intricate and adventurous play paid dividends as Liam O’Sullivan was found at the top of the D, and his effort finding the bottom left corner with pinpoint precision and pace.
The game took a turn and became scrappy and loose as both teams attempted to fetch themselves a winner. But it was Portsmouth who had a well drilled and experienced set of Penalty Corner routines who found the net once again with one as a straight strike from the peak of the D went sailing past the outstretched foot of Hemming.
As the game hit its latter stages, Andover pushed for a equaliser, Hacker had hit the post, Haigh pressed forward and opportunities went begging. But again, it was Portsmouth with a counter attack who bagged themselves another as a rogue ball trickled into the D and a Portsmouth striker beat Hemming to the ball to reverse it though his legs to settle the score.