ANDOVER TOWN 1 – 4 US PORTSMOUTH
By Reporter Ben Stokes
Andover’s quest for cup glory this season ended against visiting United Services Portsmouth who demonstrated a ruthlessness in front of goal that put the tie beyond doubt after 45 minutes.
After a prolonged absence caused by the second lockdown, it was hard to determine who would have been most affected given the form of both sides prior.
Andover were missing Josh Hewson but McAuley Stubbs, recently signed from Bemerton, took his place on the bench. After some initial concerns about whether the fog would cause a postponement, both sides started competitively.
US Portsmouth lining up in their favoured 3-4-3 formation whilst Andover looked to combat this threat. However, the bright start was undone by two mistakes leading to two goals for the visitors. On both occasions, misplaced passes put Town under pressure. The first being dispatched by Declan Seiden lifting the ball over the advancing George Baxter whilst the second was scored by Josh Hazell.
Andover continued to struggle to cope with the movement of the front 3 and soon found themselves 3 down. Todd beating Baxter to the cross and heading the ball in to the corner. Seiden then scored a fourth before half time to all but secure passage to the semi-final.
The second half saw a significant improvement by the home side. Zac Hine looking dangerous every time he got the ball and he fashioned Andover’s goal. Set from down the right, Hine crossed the ball only for it to be deflected in to his own net by the unfortunate Jeffes. 10 minutes later, Holmes tapped in from close range although it was chalked off for an offside decision that looked extremely marginal.
However, no matter how hard they worked, Andover were unable to pull another goal back. They will hope that this is just a blip and that they will return to their pre-lockdown form.
Too many players were off the pace in the first half but showed enough in the second to suggest that they can pick themselves up for what is an important double header at the Portway Stadium starting with Newport on Saturday and then Bemerton on Tuesday.
You sense these games could dictate the course the season and Andover supporters will hope that this game is their one and only loss at home this season.
At Saturday’s match against Newport, Andover Town are once again asking visitors to donate to the Andover Foodbank to help families on low incomes this Christmas.
Caroline Cross, a therapist at Andover Town FC said of October’s drive, “We feel the local foodbank is such an important and worthy cause to support so any help to push out this message would be greatly appreciated.”