, , , , , ,

Saturday 23rd July 2016 ko 11.00

Pre-season Friendly

ANDOVER TOWN 1 (Robertson 84)


Att 32 at Sparsholt College, near Winchester

It’s a fact of footballing life that by and large groundhoppers and pre-season friendlies don’t mix, and its a view I have a lot of sympathy with. Games played at half pace with no cards and roll-on/off substitutes aren’t many people’s idea of what football is about, so in the summer months you have to be creative! And this game had plenty to enthuse.

This incarnation of football in Andover was formed in 2013 and were immediately accepted into the Wessex League playing their first few home games at the Hampshire FA Ground until the Portway Stadium could be tidied up after 2 years laying derelict.

But that little slice of history fails to take in account a massive detail. The club was formed in no small part from students from Sparsholt Colleage and the club’s links with the facility still exist today. In a sense it felt that this was a true Andover Town home game.

So you’d expect the place to be a sports academy wouldn’t you? No, not a bit of it, the college is far more of an agriculture and horticultural centre, the likes of Charlie Dimmock and Tom Hart Dyke studied here. Nevertheless the pitch here is excellent, possibly due to Southampton FC’s involvement here too.

The ground is a flat sports field, with a fenced off pitch, and a modular changing room block. There’s fields, trees and a raised area, but no hard standing so it couldn’t stage Step 6 football but that didn’t stop it being a hugely enjoyable place to spend a couple of hours.

And perhaps the fact that I’d been expecting a caged 3G pitch added to my enjoyment, and that other potential of the friendly, two sides who don’t normally play each other. Andover will play this season in the Wessex Premier, while Warminster will ply their trade one rung lower, in the Western League’s First Division, but for long periods the diference in status wasn’t obvious.

Maybe Warminster’s preparations for the new season are further advanced, but they looked by far the sharper in the first and Kevin’s Shinn’s header from a corner was the very least they deserved at half time. But as the second half progressed Andover slowly found their feet and in substitute Ike Robertson found a useful outlet for some crisp passing. His equalising goal was a fitting reward for a strong second half performance, and while you shouldn’t read too much into friendlies there was enough for both clubs to take positives from the game.

But for this casual visitor this had the enjoyment of ticking off somewhere just that little bit different. Sometimes a little research allows you to be creative!