Andover Town reached the Final of the Hampshire FA Russell Cotes Cup on Tuesday evening, for the first time in their fledgling history, with a 4-1 victory over fellow Sydenhams Wessex League side Fareham Town at the Portway.
The result was fair on the night though the final scoreline perhaps did not do Fareham justice.
Andover, without the unavailable Mike Gosney and Jason Silver and with a not fully fit Zach Glasspool on the bench were, on paper, short of attacking power but led by a fine performance from Reece Rusher, they made light of the absentees with three first-half goals.
The first two came from corners – Andover seemed to have an inordinate amount of same over the course of the ninety minutes – with the opener being bundled over the line by Alex Dockree in a goalmouth scramble.
The second was more clear cut with full back Joe Wright heading a Rusher corner high in to the roof of the net. Fareham showed no signs of accepting defeat and the home side were indebted to goalkeeper Luke Cairney for two top-class saves before the lead was extended to three with the best goal of the match.
A corner was only partially cleared and George Hallahan rolled the loose ball in to Rusher’s path and the shot gave keeper Harding no chance from the edge of the area. Still Fareham were not done and they reduced the deficit with virtually the last kick of the half as skipper Josh Holmes outpaced the home defence to slot the ball past Cairney.
The second half was much of the same with the Andover defence, well marshalled by Luke Dempsey, standing firm and the game made safe midway through the half with a second goal from Dockree – a looping header over a crowded six-yard box.
Rusher could, and perhaps should, have made it five in the dying seconds but victory was already won and Town will meet Wessex League Division One side AFC Stoneham in the Final on a date and at a venue to be decided.
A mile or so up the road on the same evening Andover New Street moved back to the top of the Sydenhams League (Wessex) Division One with an 86th minute goal from Zac Neve giving them victory over close rivals Tadley Calleva.
So the leaders in both Divisions come from Andover and happily both Clubs are beginning to attract the attendances they deserve.
Town have a tough game in prospect this coming Saturday when they travel to their nearest challengers, Blackfield and Langley, while New Street cross the Solent to meet East Cowes Vics on the Island.
By match reporter JOHN GORMAN