Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Lyndhurst v South Wonston Swifts

Hampshire Premier League Division One champions 2018/19, Lyndhurst FC.
Some leagues go on and on in to mid-May, or even June (see certain Spanish leagues), others finish in March. The Hampshire Premier Football League Division One is one of the latter. It's been a mild winter with few postponements, so some teams in this division finished their 21 games weeks ago. The final match of the season was on Saturday, where leaders Lyndhurst entertained second-placed South Wonston Swifts. With just a single point separating the two sides, it was winner takes all at the end of the match (a draw would have meant Lyndhurst won the league). Where to go on Saturday? It could only have been here.

"Here" is the attractive Wellands Road home of Lyndhurst FC in the heart of the New Forest. Wellands Road has all you need for a club at this level. There's a car park for around 30 cars. On the left as you enter is a wooden hut for the changing rooms, and then another for the tea bar. The pitch is mostly surrounded by railings (there's a few missing on the far side), and there are two unroofed dugouts made of wood (they may be half-built, awaiting a roof, I'm not sure).

So far, so typical of this level of football. This being the New Forest, the ground is surrounded on three sides by tall mature deciduous trees, with the other side adjacent to several back gardens with 2019's colourful Spring foliage just beginning to appear after the winter break. The pitch itself has a slope in the shape of a bell curve, but drifting downhill quite drastically away from the car park end. If you see some of my photos and think I should have straightened them up a little, well, that's the genuine angle of the pitch!

With the sun shining, Lyndhurst was definitely the place to be.

The home side kicked downhill in the first half, which turned out to be a wise decision. Duarte Martins was played through the middle to open the scoring after 10 minutes, sweeping the ball low past the Swifts keeper in to the far corner. The second goal came ten minutes later when Benni Cook was tripped when cutting back from the byline. Martins dispatched the resulting penalty in to the same corner that he'd already scored in earlier.

Goal number three arrived just two minutes later. The ball wasn't cleared from a corner and Cook smashed it in on the half-volley from 12 yards. The initial phase was quite one-sided. Swifts did hit the bar, but this was from a back-header from a defender. Their first real chance came just before half-time, but Yannick de Mezieres made a spectacular save, fingertipping the ball over the bar from a fierce shot.

The slope helped Swifts in the second-half as they came more in to the game, but a series of blocks and clearances off the line, plus another worldie save low down to his left by Yannick kept them at bay. They deserved at least one goal, but it wasn't to be their day.

The celebrations started as soon as the full-time whistle blew - the subs and other club members running on to the pitch, champagne and cans of Fosters spraying rainbows in the sunshine. Lyndhurst then posed for a couple of celebratory team groups before the medal ceremony, then it all went haywire again with more champagne showers and much leaping around.

I don't know, there may just have been some sore heads on Sunday morning!

Action in front of the tea hut.
Lyndhurst FC (3) 3 v 0 (0) South Wonston Swifts FC
Saturday 30th March 2019
Hampshire Premier Football League Division One
Attendance: About 50
Admission: None
Programme: None
Colours: Green and black stripes / black / green v White and black stripes / white / white
National Grid reference: SU3008

The twin spires of Our Lady's Church and St Michael and All Angels Church look on as Swifts defend in the second half.
There was a short match report in this week's Hampshire Premier League newsletter, which you can read here if you're quick enough.

There will be more photos from the game on the HAH Facebook page shortly. Because of the location and the lighting conditions, they are some of my favourite pictures of the season. It was hard to choose only 40 or so to publish.

I'm hoping to do one more report on HAH this season. This will be on Saturday April 13th. See you then!

League top scorer Duarte Martins scores his first of the day and his 31st league goal of the season.
Benni Cook just about to go down for Lyndhurst's penalty.
A big crowd for the big day.
Flying the flag for the village team.
Emerging for the second half, slightly the worse for wear.
Lyndhurst attacking up the considerable slope (no, my photo isn't wonky, I promise...)
Gary Rogers had his champagne ready as soon as the ref blew the final whistle!
The team group from picture 1 bursts forward.
The celebratory champagne-spraying commences.

No comments:

Post a Comment