Andover Town football club is only 2 years old and, although they currently play on the ground vacated by the defunct Andover FC, they are not connected to the old club in any other way as far as I can tell.
The Portway Stadium is a fairly new ground having been constructed in 1989, although it was refurbished in 2013/14. The ground is situated on the edge of the town within an industrial estate. There is a reasonable sized car park adjacent to the ground. You enter through a two-turstile block directly off the car park. Immediately to your left, running along the majority of one side of the ground, is the newly refurbished players block, which incorprates toilets and the tea bar. Next to this is the main stand with seating for around 250. This side of the ground is raised above the playing surface and a grass bank leads down to pitch level. Directly below the main stand, unusually for this level, are the dugouts. There is a small covered standing area just to the right of the goal at the car park end. The rest of the pitch is surrounded with hard standing.
The recent warmer weather had obviously taken it's toll on the pitch which looked quite hard and bumpy. Nothing unusual for this time of year.
Considering that this match was a real end of season affair with nothing really at stake, the crowd was pretty impressive at somewhere around the 100 mark at a guess.
When the match kicked off it was the away side who immediately took the initiative forcing a couple of very early corners which came to nothing. However, this only lasted a few minutes before Andover started to take some control of the game. In fact, after the first few minutes, I think it is fair to say that Brockenhurst offered very little apart from long balls in the first 30 minutes. Andover looked far more accomplished in midfield, trying to play through the Brockenhurst back line but being hampered by the pitch at times. On 15 minutes, however, they did make a breakthrough. A move through the centre of the pitch and a pass whch was actually missed by the first Andover player but fell into the path of Charlie Gunson. He took the ball on towards the left hand corner of the penalty area and, as the keeper tried to arrow the angle, slid it past him into the far corner. A very neat finish indeed and no more than Andover deserved on the balance of play.
Their dominance continued for another 15 minutes but they failed to capitalise on the extra posession.
Suddenly, after about half an hour, Brockenhurst woke up. Firstly they called the Andover keeper into action pushing an attempt out for a corner. A few minutes later a Brockenhurst header hit the bar and the follow up was also smashed against the woodwork. Before the end of the half the away side were to again hit the woodworkd but despite their best efforts, the game remained 1-0 It was, however, a far better contest now that the away side had risen from their slumber.
Both sides continued to for goals at the start of the second half with the opposing centre-forwards, Jack for Brockenhurst and Dixon for Andover, causing problems for their defenders with their running and chasing down. However, it was the home side that looked the more dangerous. Sure enough, less than 10 minutes into the second half, they struck what looked like the killer blow. A nice passing move up the right flank lead to a ball being slid right across the face of the Brockenhurst goal for Dixon to tap in at the far post.
At 1-0 there was always a chance that Brockenhurst could have nicked a point but at 2-0 you got the impression that a home win was pretty much guaranteed.
To their credit The Badgers kept on plugging away but always seemed to lack the final ball or the composed finish required to get them back into the game. There was, of course, still time for the away side to hit the woodwork yet again but, even though they had rattled posts and crossbars, they never actually looked like they were going to score. Maybe it was just one of those nights for them? So, it finished 2-0 to Andover. A result that, over the 90 minutes, fairly reflected the contest in my opinion.
This may have been my first venture into the Wessex League but it certainly won't be my last.
Andover Town - @andovertownfc
Brockenhurst - @brockenhurstfc