Win City (2 - 3) Andover Town
After two stunning away wins, City faltered in their title challenge at home to Andover Town on Saturday 21st December 2014. The game was a ill tempered affair which resulted in 10 bookings, City 4, Town 6, and two sendings off (one each). City were out-muscled in most areas of the game and could not really penetrate the Town's double marking defence system, Zack Glasspool twisted and turned in the box on may occasions but was unable to get one clean shot at goal. In fact in the first half City failed to get on target once.
City started badly and in the 10th minute Adam Tomasso misjudged a back header to 'keeper Gareth Barfoot allowing Town's Oliver Yates to nip in and lob him for the opener.
City were unable to to use the flanks to set up their attractive footballing style as Andover pressed the game into a tight midfield battle. Ex- City player Mike Dixon caused the home defence problems with his strength up front. Lewis Benson came close but luckily for City his shot landed on top of the net.
It looked odds on that Andover would score again and it was Dixon, in the 27th minute, who barged through the City defence to set up Benson who side-footed home.
Manager Paul Masters switched play early in the second half to give City more width on the wings, Chris Masson was replaced by Adam Roberts (47th minute) and Charlie Smeeton was replaced by Danilo Cadete in the 50th minute. This certainly gave City more of the play and in the 55th minute Stuart Green got the last touch in a scramble in the box from Micky Hubbard's free kick to pull them back into the game.
It only took Andover a couple of minutes to regain their two-goal lead when Barfoot was caught too far off his line from a 40 yard yard free kick taken by Yates.
City rolled up their sleeves and played some good football up to the edge of the penalty area but lacked the space to get in a shot as Andover covered well. Their persistence was rewarded in the 72nd minute when Geoff Dunn worked his way into the box and flighted a cross that evaded the Andover 'keeper, leaving a relatively easy header for Cadete to score.
The last ten minutes of the game belonged to City with Cadete and Dunn missing chances and Scott Sampson hitting the crossbar from a corner but they could not force a point.
The game ended on a sour note when in the 87th minute Andovers' Alex Docree clashed with Sampson going for the same ball and to the surprise of both Referee Wayne Thomas sent both of them off.
Despite the defeat, City's players, management team and supporters enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner in the clubhouse after the game provided by and cooked by supporters. A vote of thanks was given by Warren Bentley resplendent in this Santa Claus outfit!
City: Gareth Barfoot, Dominic Cope, Josh Green, Stuart Green, Scott Sampson, Adam Tomasso, Geoff Dunn, Chris Mason, Zach Glasspool, Mike Hubbard, Charlie Smeeton, Mike McEnery, Ryan Holloway, Luke Dempsey, Danilo Cadete and Adam Roberts.