Verwood Town 2-1 Romsey Town 

The weather gods brought sun, hail, driving rain and a blustery wind to Verwood Town last Saturday, where Romsey suffered defeat by the odd goal in three despite taking the lead.

Town boss Andy Samuels made two changes from the side that triumphed over Andover Town four days earlier, with in-form striker Jo Sutherden and centre back Ethan Madden both unavailable, so Josh Gibson and Billy Brackley returned to the starting line-up, writes Tony Galsworthy.

Miles Bartram had to make a smart stop with his feet in the fifth minute to deny the Potters’ Callum Whitelaw, who would prove to be a thorn in Town’s side all afternoon. In the 23rd minute a long range shot from Whitelaw cannoned off the inside of the post and away to safety.

On the left flank Tiago Moreno eluded his marker before hitting a rising shot over the bar but quickly atoned with an assist for the opening goal in the 34th minute. Gibson and Charlie Hawes exchanged passes to set up Moreno to shoot but instead he rolled the ball to the unmarked Liam Magee who confidently planted his shot wide of the hosts’ static ‘keeper.

Town’s celebrations were short lived though as three minutes later Verwood were on level terms. Romsey failed to clear a corner and despite defensive blocks and a save from Bartram, the ball fell to Whitelaw who made no mistake from close range, the referee ignoring claims for offside. As the first half ended Hawes’ beat Verwood’s defence and raced into the area but shot tamely straight at the ‘keeper.

Romsey were forced into a defensive reshuffle when George Ockwell was withdrawn during the break and Ben Beard came on at right back  whilst Alex Wilson moved over to the centre of defence. The hosts piled on pressure that saw Bartram and his defence hold firm for the next fifteen minutes, until there was some relief as a rocket shot from Tiago required a diving save to deny him.

However, the hosts’ incessant pressure paid off in the 75th minute, when a free kick was punched away by Bartram but from the corner of the box Whitelaw hit a sublime chip, that evaded Wilson’s goal line leap, to float just under the bar and give his side the lead. 

Richie Sesay replaced Gibson and came close to equalising in the 82nd minute when he rounded the ‘keeper but his drag back from a narrow angle could not be converted despite efforts from Magee and Hawes. This proved to be Town’s last effort of note as an overall below par performance condemned them to defeat.

Romsey remain in 9th place in Division One, as they prepare for an away match at Folland Sports tomorrow (ko 3pm) before welcoming Newport (IW) to The AEC Protection Ground next Tuesday evening (ko 7.30pm).