Romsey rounded off a trio of away fixtures with a third successive draw at Fawley last Saturday, when a Liam Magee goal helped them to secure a point with a 1-1 scoreline. 

It was almost a three points’ haul for the Bypass Boys as Magee’s first half strike was not cancelled out until the 83rd minute by the Oilers, who played out the last ten minutes with just ten men after a sin bin expulsion.

Town suffered a pre match blow when skipper Craig Bryant picked up an injury to add to an already depleted squad from which boss Andy Samuels had to juggle to find his starting XI. 

He was able to hand a debut to midfielder James Shorey, who has signed on loan from Brockenhurst and is finding his way back to first team football after undergoing ACL surgery in 2022, but immediately he had to slot into yet another new centre back pairing with Billy Brackley. Youngster Ben Beard stepped up from the bench to take over Brackley’s usual left back berth.

Despite this reshuffle, it was Town who took the game to their opponents with Taylor and Sutherden linking up well on the right flank. Liam Magee saw a headed effort from a Tiago Moreno cross saved by the ‘keeper’s feet before a cross by Shorey rebounded to safety off the crossbar.

At the other end of the pitch Fawley’s skipper Dec Hartigan raced away from Shorey but Brackley was on hand to clear his shot off the line and then he produced a fine block to deny a volleyed effort by Watkins. Chances continued to fall the way of Romsey with both Geoff Dunn and Blu Sexton-Chadwick blazed efforts over the bar when well placed, before Tiago played a pinpoint pass over a static home defence allowing Magee to spring the offside trap and to round the ‘keeper and pass the ball into an empty net for a 28th minute lead.

Just five minutes later the hosts had a golden chance to get on level terms when Taylor pulled back Watkins just inside the penalty area, but Town ‘keeper Miles Bartram guessed the right way to pull off a stunning save from Hartigan’s well struck low spot-kick at the expense of a corner from which he made tipped a powerful header by Sheath over the bar.

Bartram was soon back in action at the start of the second half making another diving save from a long range free-kick and it was only his outstretched boot that denied Knight an equaliser. Next it was Hartigan who was thwarted by a sprawling save by Bartram, before Knight’s speculative effort from 30 yards cannoned off the crossbar as the hosts took control. In a rare Romsey counterattack Tiago crossed for Charlie Hawes whose header had to be tipped over the bar.

In a frantic finale Fawley had Gain sent to the sin bin and Shorey limped off to be replaced by substitute goalkeeper Sam White who was stationed up front. With pressure mounting, Romsey failed to clear a corner and Hartigan atoned for his earlier miss when he powered in a header from close range. In the final action Bartram tipped over a free kick to cap a fine performance that earned his side a point. 

Andy Samuels commented: “In the circumstances I’m happy with a point, especially with the good form Fawley have been in. But again we should’ve scored at least three or four in the first half when we were on top. Miles was in superb form again, so maybe a point was a fair result. It was a big blow to lose Craig so close to kick off, but the lads who came in today were very good considering we didn’t have any centre backs.”

On Tuesday evening, Romsey lost at home to Ringwood when they failed to defend a long throw and Ethan Fishlock headed in from close range to score the game’s only goal, in what was a scrappy affair that saw Town offer little goal threat. They remain in 8th place, five points off the final playoff berth, and are at home to Newport (IoW) tomorrow (ko3pm).