So, after a very pleasing away win for my Under 11 girl's team in the morning, I headed South-West into Wiltshire for an FA Vase between two Wessex Premier League sides Amesbury Town and Lymington Town, neither of which I had seen play before.
Amesbury, of course, is famous for being the closest town to Stonehenge and for being the oldest continuously occupied settlement in Great Britain. Archeologists believe that people have lived in the Amesbury area since around 8820 BC.
Amesbury's Bonnymead Park is situated on the outskirts of the town, just off the road to Stonehenge, encompassed by a large meander of the River Avon. As well as the football pitch, cricket is also played on the park and there is a sizeable children's playground.
There is ample parking either in the car park adjacent to the play area or closer to the football pitch on the edge of the cricket field. When approaching from the car park, the pitch is lengthways on to you. Perched upon a small back to the left is the clubhouse and changing areas. There's also a small patio area in front of the clubhouse which gives a good view across the pitch. On the far side of the ground there is a covered seating area, The Parker Bullen Solicitors Stand, with the dugouts on either side of the stand. Additional distanced seating had been added to the side of each dugout for substitutes to sit on. This brings me to the Covid-19 distancing in place at the ground. From the track & trace signing at the entrance, through the one-way system and restricted numbers in the clubhouse (enforced politely by a committee member), marking on the pitchside barrier every 2 metres and signage around the ground. It was all excellently done by the club which created a very safe environment for the players and spectators. Add to that the fact the ground is very neat, clean, tidy and in a lovely setting and you have all the ingredients of a very pleasurable afternoon out. The club needs to be commended on this.
Since promotion back into the Wessex Premier League in 2019, it is fair to say that Amesbury have struggled to establish themselves back in the top flight. They were well adrift at the bottom last year but were saved by the abandonment. This season has also not started too well for them having their opening league games at Shaftesbury (2-1) and Alresford (3-0). They also went out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, losing 4-0 at Badshot Lea. However, this game would be their first of the season at home in any competition. As far as the FA Vase goes, the club has reached Round Two twice in their history, going out 6-0 at Chippenham Town in 1996-97 and 5-2 at home to Corsham Town in the 2006-07 campaign.
Lymington came into the game having already played 5 competitive games in all competitions. In the league they won their opening game 2-1 at AFC Stoneham. In the FA Cup they saw off Brockenhurst in opening preliminary game before losing out on penalties to Farnborough. A 1-0 victory against Alton saw them progress in the Russell Coates Cup whilst they went down 4-3 to Baffins Milton Rovers in the League Cup. In the FA Vase, The Linnets had their best runs in consecutive seasons just over a decade ago. In the 2006-7 season they reached Round Three before going out 1-0 at home to Truro City. The following year they went one round further before falling to Crowborough Athletic, 4-1 at home. The sides met once in the league last season, a 3-0 home win for Lymington.
After some initial jostling for position, the away side took the lead as early as the 7th minute. A delightful little through ball from Nathan Hurst set Craig McAllister free on goal and his deft finish past Jordan Tewksbury made it 0-1.
The goal was a blow to the confidence of the home side and should have acted as incentive for Lymington to push on and make the game safe. However, despite some promising moves down their right flank, with Ryan Fuller and Rian Drake combining well, the expected onslaught never happened. For their part, Amesbury tried to get themselves back in the game. Osamu Allman's pace down their left flank caused some problems for The Linnets but either the crosses delivered di not fond their mark or the solid looking central defensive pairing for Lymington mopped the ball up. The first half never really sparked into life the way that the early goal had promised.
HT Amesbury Town 0 Lymington Town 1. Amesbury struggled to find any creativity in the final third. Maybe the early loss of striker David Parry didn't help. Lymington look strong in defence but, despite being in front, there were still some disagreements going on in their defence. With only a goal in it, anything could happen in the second half.
With 73 minutes on the clock Lymington finally made their possession count when Sam House, out on the far left of the penalty area, curled a beauty around Tewksbury into the far corner. 0-2. At last, going two down seemed to wake up Amesbury, who for a short while seemed to have a little more about them. Casey was finally called into action, producing a flying stop to prevent a long range effort finding the net. However, any thoughts of any kid of revival were extinguished with 7 minutes remaining. Another assist for Hurst who this time set up Conrad Churchill to make no mistake. 0-3.
FT Amesbury Town 0 Lymington Town 3. A comfortable victory for the away side. They probably should have put the game to bed way before they did but, in truth, the result was never really in that much doubt after Lymington went ahead. Amesbury now look to Saturday's home league encounter with Brockenhurst, with a view to kick-starting their season. Lymington travel to Tadley in the league then have three more league games, including the local derby with Brockenhurst, before they welcome Hamble Club to the Sports Ground in the next round of the FA Vase.
Good luck to both teams for the rest of the season.
Amesbury Town: Tewksbury, Croucher, Allman, Young, Pearson, Pickett, Greenway, Morris(c), Parry, Hannam, O.Holloway, Boothe. Subs: McCrea, A.Holloway, Newbold, Taylor
Lymington Town: Casey, Fuller, L.Churchill, Hurst, Stanley, Stephenson(c), Drake, Falco, McAllister, Flynn, House. Subs: , Carkeet, White, C.Churchill, Pearce
Ground Number: 243