Unfortunately, it looks as though we’ve reached the stage of the season in which postponements become almost a certainty at many places across the country on a Saturday afternoon. What with Bashley’s Southern League South & West fixture against Bridgwater Town falling victim to the same fate, a waterlogged pitch putting pay to that one, there wasn’t a great deal of football for me to choose from. Fortunately, Lymington Town somehow managed to maintain a pitch that was playable, and became possibly the only option in the local area for any floating football fans. I wanted to make a decision as to where my adventure would take me next this morning, but the weather seemed to do the talking for me, and so to Lymington it was!
I just about managed to catch the 13:22 from New Milton, joining friend and fellow Bashley fan Harry on the short journey over to Lymington Town station, which included a quick change over in scenic Brockenhurst. Having de-trained by the Lymington waters, it was just a short stroll up towards the Sports Ground, and we arrived with plenty of time to kill. Nothing special of note to recall today, nothing weird or particularly interesting on my journey over, just a discussion about all things football. How boring am I?
Today’s game wasn’t to be my first visit to The Sports Ground, I previously graced the club with my presence during a 3-0 loss to Winchester City a couple of months ago. I’m in no way whatsoever knocking Lymo in my following statement, but it is quite possibly the most basic ground I’ve ‘ticked’ off on my travels. That’s in no way any disrespect to the club, don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed both my visits. The pitch is marked out and surrounded, as per Wessex League regulation I believe, by a white perimeter fence, and is open along three sides, apart from a brilliant old stand along the near touchline. The clubhouse and changing rooms are to the left of the stand as you look at it, with the players entering the playing field through one of the corners. There’s a tennis/bowls/social club behind the dugouts and I believe there’s a cricket (square?) behind the near goal, a square in which you could easily watch a game of advanced catch from the comfort of the clubhouse. Be warned though, the ground is tucked away behind Lymington High Street, but as I so often say, make a visit if you can. The club is one of the friendliest I’ve come across and well worth any admission fee, £4 (programme included) in my case.
According to the supplied matchday programme, Lymington can trace sport in the town back to the mid 1870’s, and seemingly it’s almost always been played on the same complex, the one I described briefly in the words above. There was a brief spell not so long ago when football left the town, and a merger was completed with New Milton, forming ‘Lymington and New Milton Town FC’ but those days have long since gone, with both towns now providing a football club of their own (Lymington Town of the Wessex Premier League and New Milton Town of the Wessex League Division One).
Going into the game, Lymo found themselves placed 7th in the Wessex Premier standings, following an excellent start to the 204/15 campaign that had seen them climb the table from the off. That being said, the hosts results in recent weeks haven’t been in their favour, and as such they sat eight points adrift of the top six before kick off. Visitors Andover on the other hand found themselves in 9th, well knowing that victory would see them leapfrog their hosts in the league standings.
The match itself wasn’t helped by the conditions, but it was definitely spiced up with a touch of controversy. Jake Bockhart’s spot-kick to open the scoring midway through the first half had the blood of the Andover faithful boiling (probably helpful on a chilly afternoon), the decision to award the penalty in the first place one of many I felt the referee got wrong. Minutes later, an Andover forward was cynically chopped to the floor, yet nothing was given. For something that was quite possibly the most obvious penalty I’ve seen all season, I couldn’t help but let the referee know my thoughts alongside most in attendance. ‘Nonsense’ claimed one well-spoken individual to my left.
Following a heated first 45 minutes, Andover eventually claimed what a lot of their play deserved, the equaliser. They weren’t the better team, it was a very evenly contested game, but there seemed to be a bit more purpose and link when they went forward compared to their counterparts. Two minutes into stoppage time, Ike Robertson calmly headed the visitors level, but they weren’t able to hold on to a point, or even claim all three, as Brad Strickland fired under Jake Wellsley-Davis in the visiting goal late into the game to steal victory, and get Lymo back into winning ways.
Being so close to where I live, and being as easy as it is to reach, I’d say it won’t be long before I’m back at The Sports Ground once more. That’s 47 matches down now this season, and Lymo was a great place to enjoy number 47 of those. See you again soon lads.