Romsey Town 3-3 Alresford Town 

Last Saturday a see-saw encounter in which the lead changed hands three times witnessed Romsey Town come from behind to secure a 3-3 draw with high flying Alresford Town in the first league meeting at The AEC Protection Ground between these sides for over ten years, writes Tony Galsworthy.

Town boss Andy Samuels handed a debut to forward Stuart Green, who has joined full back Owen Taylor in dual signing at Romsey from Southern League side Bemerton Heath Harlequins. The game, played in front of 150 spectators, sparked into life after an evenly contested opening ten minutes, when Hills gave the visitors the lead with a thunderbolt into the top corner from 25 yards.

For the rest of the half Romsey enjoyed the lion’s share possession but without calling Alresford’s custodian Webb into making a save until the last five minutes when first Geoff Dunn shot narrowly wide after a neat one-two with Liam Magee saw him surge into the box, and shortly after Liam Magee fired in an equaliser from six yards. Magee had played in Charlie Hawes whose effort cannoned off Webb into the in-form striker’s path and his precision half volley ensured the sides went into the break on level terms.

There was quickfire start to the second half when in the 48th minute Dunn’s cross was headed on by Magee and Green swept the ball home form close range to put the hosts in front. From the 55th minute a frantic ten minutes’ action ensued in which Green burst into the box and was fouled by ex-Town player John Cole whilst in the act of shooting, leading the referee to point to the spot. Webb though proved equal to powerful Craig Bryant’s spot kick and parried it away to safety.

Alresford then struck twice in six minutes to take a 3-2 lead with goals from Higby and Hills, who provided assists for each other, and both times Romsey looked culpable with first Dunn being caught in possession and then George Ockwell playing his opponent onside. Romsey piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and Ockwell saw his close range effort fly over the bar, whilst Alresford responded with a string of set pieces.

In the 80th minute a speculative lofted through ball by Holloway was chased down by substitute Jo Sutherden, who pressured his marker in a mistake as he tried to head the ball back to Webb.

Sutherden’s shot was blocked by the onrushing Webb but fell to Magee at the edge of the box and, spotting the ‘keeper was still off his line, hit a sublime chip that sailed just under the bar for surely what must be a contender for goal of the season. The remaining ten minutes of the encounter saw the end to end action continue and Miles Bartram had to save smartly at the feet of Cole to preserve a precious point.

Liam Magee has now notched four goals in the last three games including the only goal in a semi-final tie at Whitchurch United that has seen Romsey Town through to the Final of the North Hants Challenge Cup for a second successive season. Town travel to relegation threatened Andover Town tomorrow (ko 3pm) before welcoming promotion chasing Millbrook to The AEC Protection Ground next Tuesday evening (ko 7.45pm) for what will surely attract another bumper crowd.