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Romsey right at home in Regional Leagues
The opening Regional Division 2 game was cagey and tactical from the beginning, with the visitors setting up in a half pitch press when not in possession and allowing Romsey to knock the ball around between the back line.
Initially the home side showed some nerves and played themselves into some worrying situations, but they settled and began to pick their way through the Southampton lines.
The first goal was likely to be crucial and Rob Kerr provided it for Romsey when he beat a player in midfield and took advantage as the defence backed off to advance into the area and fire a low shot past the keeper.
Romsey doubled their lead when Jack Forrest-Charde fed the ball wide to Lewis Birch, who got past two players before seeing a reverse-stick cross embarrass the goalkeeper when it went directly in at the near post.
Southampton got back into the game when they punished some slack marking from Romsey by constructing a move from a sideline hit that ended with a finish into the far corner.
Romsey’s two-goal advantage was restored before half-time when a goalkeeping error allowed a through ball to rebound off a post and Ben Mullan was quick to pounce with a reverse-stick finish.
Despite trailing 3-1 and seemingly needing to chase the game, Southampton still refused to close down the home defence, allowing Romsey to dictate the pace of play from the back. Southampton were temporarily reduced to ten men when a player was sin-binned for bundling over a Romsey forward but before the home side could take advantage it became ten-a-side as a crude stick tackle by a Romsey defender was also punished with a yellow card.
With both sides short handed, the game was more open and Forrest-Charde made a mazy dribble towards the D before passing to the back post where Tom Ponsford made a classy volleyed finish high into the net.
Southampton hit back to 4-2 down at a penalty corner.
Having controlled the play for most of the game with their calm passing approach, Romsey became panicky in a frantic final ten minutes, with Southampton piling on the pressure by winning a succession of penalty corners.
Tom Weech was in excellent form in the Romsey goal however and earned his side’s man of the match award for a string of important interventions including a brilliant stick stop when the visitors seemed set to score from a narrow angle.
Tempers were rising as the game drew to a finish and both teams lost a man to the sin bin when a Southampton player was penalised for dangerously swinging his stick and a Romsey player retaliated with a push.
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