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Tuesday 24th February 2015 ko 19.45

Hampshire Premier League Cup Semi-Final

BAFFINS MILTON ROVERS 3 (Watts 18 Couzens 47 Burnley 90)

WINCHESTER CASTLE 0 Pickett sent off 90 (2nd booking)

Att 36 at Liss Athletic

Sometimes when I reflect on what I’ve watched and where I’ve been I do spot an obvious pattern. Here for a variety of reasons I’ve seen quite a bit of the Wessex League and its footprint. Perhaps its because its easy enough to reach, just a blast down the heartily boring A34, but you know what that means though, time to seek out the little gems somewhere else!

Obviously Liss did spend time in the Wessex League, from 2004 to 2008 to be exact, and you can see exactly why they left too. Yes there are floodlights at the Newman Collard Playing Field, but it is genuinely a playing field, with a footpath right through the middle, you’d never enclose the place.

Records state this is the town where actress Minnie Driver grew up (!), and far more importantly, the birthplace of darts player Cliff Lazarenko! I suspect the genteel feels of the place was more suited to an actress though, and now I’ve said that, I bet someone will tell me the place is an “Arrers” hotbed!

Really, other than an game at a ground where use of the lights is unusual I do enjoy Hampshire Premier Football, as Step 7 leagues go the quality is good, and it seems to be well-run, which I suppose is hopper-speak for games tend to go ahead as advertised!

You arrive at a semi-final, and watch amateur footballers concentrate that little bit harder. The banter sounds more forced during the warm-up, there’s the quick glance across to the watching committeemen, but once the whistle sounds, the inhibitions are quickly lost.

Minds ease into the commitment and passion of the game, and on this occasion the inhibitions well and truly went. The challenges flew, two were booked- one from each side- in the first 5 minutes. I’d enjoyed Winchester Castle‘s company when I’d watched them 18 months ago, but once Portsmouth-based Baffins had seen off two early chances they dominated the game, and in the end the final score was a fair reflection on the pattern of play.

And that would have been a straightforward evening out, but for one detail- the challenges kept coming, often two-footed and unusually late and so referee Tim Godfrey kept issuing yellow cards, in the end 7. It became almost a game of card snap, waiting to someone to collect the matching pair!

That ended up being Castle’s Zak Pickett, the second card being for a pointless trip a few seconds before the final whistle. His defence was that since there was “Only 10 seconds to go..” the referee could have spared him. No defence at all in truth, the laws of the game are not time-dependant, I’ve seen at least 3 players sent off after the final whistle.

Every player needs that fig leaf I suppose, and if nothing else this was a highly entertaining evening’s entertainment. I wonder where they’ll hold the final?