Having never been to Foxcotte before, here is a brief run-down of the stadium. It is part of a sports centre complex which also hosts Andover Rugby Club and Andover Archery Club. Access to the ground is through a single gate just off the car park access road. All of the facilities are on this side of the ground. A bar and function room, a snack bar and the players and officials areas are immediately to your left as you enter. Just past these is the main, and only, stand, The Buildbase Stand. It is a quirky, wooden structure that actually looks like a cross between a caravan and a truck trailer from the back. The whole construction is painted white, a few steps in the centre of the stand lead into the seating area. The Buildbase Stand is emblazoned in red across the top of the structure. It's one of those unusual non-league stands that make grounds like this interesting. The dugouts are situated directly opposite the stand and clubhouse. The playing surface has a slight slope from right to left as you look from the main stand.
Recent games between these two teams, research showed, have been a little one-sided in favour Tadley. Winning the last two games at Foxcotte by 4-2 last season, and 5-2 the season before that. Combine that with two 4-0 wins at home and it appeared that the away side were favourites tonight. However, New Street appointed a new manager, Dean Hutchins, in the summer and are looking to take the club forward.
True to form, I was still making my way around to the far side of the ground (looking for a good spot to view with my new Go Pro) when Tadley opened the scoring. A break down their left flank culminated in a low cross which the home defence failed to deal with. It fell to Brett Denham who made no mistake with a good finish. Of course, I didn't manage to capture the goal on camera.
With Tadley kicking down the slope and a goal up, the game was all one way for the first 15 minutes, with Andover struggling to get a foothold. With sixteen minutes on the clock, it was 2-0. A nice Tadley move lead to ball being cleared for a corner. When it came in, from the right hand side, the unmarked Daniel Vickers rose at the near post to power a header past Dave Tasker in the home goal.
After going two down, New Street did rally somewhat. They were still struggling to cope with the Tadley attacks but had, at least, managed to steady the ship somewhat. Tasker produced two good saves towards the end of the half, both from headers after left-wing crosses, which kept the home side in with a shout.
It was a much-improved Andover performance in the second half. They closed down the Tadley players much more quickly than in the first half and their passing was, in general, much sharper and more accurate. Unfortunately, try as they might, they couldn't really create too many good chances. Despite the game being far more balanced, the Tadley keeper was never really stretched.
Tadley seemed happy with their two-goal lead and, possibly because they were now kicking up the slope, they weren't making as many inroads into the home defence as the first half. However, when they did attack they posed more of a threat that the home side, forcing Tasker to make a couple of decent saves. Denham had a great chance to seal the victory but blazed a chance over from 10 yards. Andover mustered a couple of efforts, a shot that whistled across the goal mouth and a couple of efforts that were dealt with comfortably by Hindmarsh, the Calleva keeper.
On 80 minutes, Tadley substitute James Tennant made the game safe. Cutting in from the left flank, he beat his man and then fired a low, crisp cross-shot low past Tasker's left hand.
The 3-0 scoreline was no more than Tadley deserved on the night. They were the better side for the majority of the game. However, Andover never gave up the game and, in my opinion, there was enough about their performance to suggest that there may be better times on the horizon.
The result lifts Tadley into third spot on seven points, with New Street down in fourteenth with three points.
Andover travel to new boys Baffins Milton Rovers on Saturday whilst Tadley entertain leaders Downton in an early-season top of the table clash.
Andover New Street - @new_streetfc
Tadley Calleva - @tadleycallevafc