STARTING XI: J.PAGE, P.KEATING, M.BUCKTHORPE, R.MACEY, M.HAWKINS, M.SPENCER, E.EARL, S.GREEN, J.McPHEE, D.HARTLEY, K.ROCHE (1), SUBS: B.BOLTON (1), L.BURCH, O.BRADLEY, M.LILLEY
Mid-week football was back at the LB Roofing Arena with a quarter final place in the Sydenhams Wessex League cup at stake.
Fawley started in a 4-5-1 formation with a completely changed midfield trio to Saturday, with Declan Hartigan playing in no.10 with Elliot Earl and Steve Green occupying the central midfield positions. Matt Spencer - who returned to first team action last weekend against East Cowes - was rewarded with a starting position on the right hand side of midfield. Reece Macey also returned to central defence, playing alongside Martin Buckthorpe.
The first half was lively and well matched, and I completely missed the first goal but according to the goalscorer Kieran Roche it was a well taken effort, and I'll have to take his word for it! Both teams were trying to play with the ball on the deck but lacked a little guile and conviction in the final third. Roche seemed happy turning provider tonight with some useful link up play with the midfield, however the stand out performer of the first half was undoubtedly Jon Page in the Fawley goal, who has made a significant impact since returning to the club.
Some dogged defending from Fawley led to a Stoneham corner, which was well directed towards a crowded six yard box. As both Fawley and Stoneham players jumped for the ball, a pair of hands rose highest to claim the ball, just what every defence would want from your goalkeeper to ease the pressure. Unfortunately we were all dismayed to see that it was in fact left back Matt Hawkins, who had taken the law of the game into his own hands (literally) to pluck the ball out of the sky. His claims for a push in the back fell on deaf ears, however Hawky's blushes were spared as the resultant penalty was expertly tipped away by an outstretched Page in the Fawley sticks, down to his left hand side to keep the scores at one-nil until half time.
The second half saw no changes for the Oilers and the game started off much the same as the first half, with lots of endeavor from both sides but not a game packed full of chances on goal. Hartigan and Roche were linking up well, and the Fawley defence were quick to react to any potential dangers approaching the 18 yard box. Spencer and McPhee were getting on the ball in some interesting positions but were unable to convert any chances, as Stoneham went in search of an equaliser it seemed the spaces were opening up for the game to have it's second goal.
It was Stoneham who got the all important second goal, as captian Elliot Earl swung a leg and grounded his opponent in the penalty area, trying to retrieve a loose pass that should've been sent further downfield. There didn't seem to be many complaints about this penalty either, so presumably the correct decision. This time Stoneham dispatched the penalty low and hard passed Page to bring the game back on level pegging.
Some home changes were made by joint first-team managers Lee Shepherd and Scott Johnston, with Ben Bolton replacing Declan Hartigan to take up a position up front, and Ollie Bradley replaced Elliot Earl in the centre of midfield. Both subs combined brilliantly to produce the second goal for Fawley with just five minutes to go, as Bradley picked the ball up mid-way through the opposition territory in the centre of the pitch and glided passed two opponents to find himself out wide left. He created just enough space to swing a left footed cross in to expertly pick out an unmarked Ben Bolton who steered his header into the top right corner.
As the game was drawing to a close and most of the spectators were preparing for a walk in the dark back to the car park, a Stoneham thunderbolt from all of 30 yards arrowed into the top corner which forced the penalty shoot-out, and Fawley had to do it all again after beating Shaftesbury on penalties in the previous round.
So up stepped the penalty takers!
Fawley 1 (Burch) v 1 Stoneham
Fawley 2 (McPhee) v 2 Stoneham
Fawley 3 (Green) v 3 Stoneham
Fawley 4 (Keating) v 4 Stoneham
Fawley 5 (Page) v Stoneham 4 (Page saved)
NEW MILTON TOWN FC v FAWLEY AFC
SYDENHAMS WESSEX LEAGUE
FAWCETTS FIELD, BH25 6BQ
SAT 9th DECEMBER, 3:00 KO