What a great (albeit expensive..!) and worthwhile summer it's been so far for all the sports sections operating from the Holbury Community Sports Association.
On the football side it's been all hands on deck and we have seen a huge amount of voluntary action from our clubs members and supporters. Hardly has a day gone by without someone being at the football club renovating, upcycling, maintaining and improving various elements of the ground, so far either funded by it's members or from local sponsors, all motivated to bring team sports and physical activity to the local area!
Not all of the changes to the ground have been cosmetic, with floodlight boxes needing replacing, new flooring in the changing rooms where some of the boards had become weak from damp, bordering hedges and bushes needing cutting back and also the many voluntary hours preparing the pitches.
Before we get onto the game, on behalf of the football club, thank you to everyone who have given up their time to helping with ground improvements and also an early thank you to our club sponsors as without their support this summer could have been even tougher! We look forward to the season ahead and working together to bring great football and a bit of local pride to the Waterside!
Our first home friendly arranged was an exciting one as we welcomed ex-Wessex leaguers AFC Totton, who gained promotion to the Southern League in 2008/09 season with a whopping 106 points. That seasons top goalscorer for the Stags Nathan Sherbourne was among the starters for them in Fridays friendly.
A few "A.Trialists" made the AFC Totton squad looking to impress Louis Langdown and the many Stags fans that made the short journey down the A326. One familiar face in a Totton shirt was Callum Chugg who had a breakthrough season with us last season sweeping up the young player of the season award and deservedly given his opportunity to pitch himself at a higher level. Highly regarded by everyone at Fawley as a bright local talented footballer, it was great to see him back at the ground (and losing the coin toss against Dane to switch ends..!)
On the contrary a pretty familiar looking side for Fawley aside from two debutants. Firstly a hungover Nick Dwyer following the break up for summer holidays (who hid it very well with an assured display at the back..) making up one of a back three. With plans to move back to the South Coast after a stint teaching Phys Ed in London, the boys have all been impressed with Nick and certain he'll be a great fit for the club, rumor has it a decent cricketer as well so sound the alarms to Chris Tona, Callum Earl and co!
Second debutant was young livewire Ollie Bradley whose quick feet and determined running between the lines must have impressed everyone at the ground, early comparisons to Lewis Ross wouldn't come as a great surprise so it was great viewing having both available for last nights friendly.
The game itself started off perfectly for the Oilers, as an attacking throw-in taken by Sam Burrows on the left hand side eventually found its way to Steve Green who was allowed too much time on the edge of the box to put his trademark in swinging curved cross into the area, and Ben Bolton reacted quickest as he rose between two defenders to glance his header into the top corner, a cracking effort and I spent the next ten minutes discussing with the centre halves how he managed to jump that high... 'He's a freak of nature' was about the only answer I could manage, and pretty accurate too!
The rest of the half played out with few opportunities but a few corners for AFC Totton and good defending from the Oilers. Nick Watts had some nice touches on the right hand side but Sam Burrows was nullifying his workmates attacks- apparently there was a bet that had been made between the two before the game that we're all very keen to hear the outcome of...(!)
Half time 1-0 to Fawley, and a couple of changes were made for the home side with a pre-planned change of Steve Green replaced by Elliot Earl to give both 45 minutes, and late call up Eddie (whose surname I don't know, but I guess it's better than 'trialist'....) taking Sams place at left wing back. Eddie is based in Marchwood working for the army and I'm sure we'll see more of him at the club in pre-season as he gets his match sharpness back.
Second half AFC Totton started lively and almost found a breakthrough with Tobi Adekunle firing wide with a left footed strike. Zac Wilis replaced Callum Tanner for Fawley early in the second half and gave a different dynamic to the team with his direct running and pace in behind, if it wasn't for some wayward finishing Zac could've been in the goals with the bragging rights over his close friend and ex-Oiler Craig Feeney, who himself looked dangerous despite only just returning off holiday.
Had Zac's first effort gone in we would've never heard the end of it, as he controlled the ball brilliantly with the outside of his right foot which fell into his path perfectly, leaving two Totton defenders trailing but he scuffed his shot harmlessly wide...
Sam Jenman and Dylan Gain joined the midfield in the second half and both looked fit and comfortable against some tough opposition at this stage including Jack Masterton recently signed from Eastleigh who looked composed on the ball, as well as Charlie Gunson whose given us plenty of grief for Andover over the last few seasons.
The clock ticked down and Fawley held on for a deserved victory, a useful and competitive run out for both teams with minutes in the bank and no injuries. I'm sure both teams will go away thinking it's far too early to start predicting how their seasons are going to go, but the togetherness off the field at Fawley was certainly translated onto the pitch last night, so lots of promising signs for the season ahead. Thanks to all of the AFC Totton fans for travelling down and we hope you have a great season in the Evo-Stick South Western division next season.