By reporter Graham Cousins
ANDOVER TOWN 1 HYTHE & DIBDEN 1
Andover are on a confident unbeaten run, but four draws from their last seven league games tells its own story.
Hythe and Dibden are one of the clubs expected to be challenging for league honours this season and Andover should see this result as two points lost rather than one gained.
Andover handed a debut to Ethan Madden and another new signing Andrew Partridge made his first Portway start. Zak Hine having completed his suspension also started and Brendan Holmes and Tom Patterson, both recovering from injury were included amongst the substitutes.
Andover’s Angel Call Handling sponsored squad made a promising start in which Ben Emans was instrumental and it was his probing run which almost led to an early goal for the home side.
However, the cross was headed onto a post by Josh Bertie and whilst the ricochet was netted by Callum Sweeney the flag was up for offside.
Hine tried his luck from distance and when Emans went down in the area the referee, whose performance throughout was less than impressive, waved the appeals away.
The Watersiders received two cautions during the first 20 minutes and went on to collect six in total whilst Andover received two in a match that was not unduly physical.
Going forward the visitors always looked dangerous but Andover restricted them to just one effort on target and a couple of near misses in the first half.
Andover’s goal arrived just past the half hour mark. They sweetly worked the ball along the left flank to Emans who shrugged off a challenge before from a narrow angle fired across the goalkeeper into the far corner.
Upon the resumption Hythe looked far more determined and with the second period just three minutes old Harry Barkaway was adjudged to have conceded a penalty which Mike Dark converted.
This was the signal for Hythe to raise their game a notch but Andover played well to prevent a further score but once or twice they did ride their luck.
At the other end it was almost two for Andover as Josh Hewson and Adam Patterson combined to set up Sweeney but his effort was inches wide of the post. Hewson twice created a chance for himself the second of which was only kept out by the goalkeeper diving to save with his fingertips.
With thirteen minutes left Marlon Mason left Andover appealing for an offside decision which did not arrive but with only George Baxter to beat he placed his shot well wide of the empty goal.
In the closing minutes Andover created a cameo of half chances and goalmouth scrambles but no one found the final touch.
It was during this week’s game that the team and visitors to Portway Stadium made donations to the Andover Foodbank, organised by club physio company Cross Massage Therapy.