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Downton Reserves 5-1 Hythe & Dibden Reserves
15th November, Wyvern League
The Reserves followed up their impressive comeback away at Lymington with a dominant home display against Division One (West) strugglers Hythe and Dibden.
The visitors rarely threatened the Robins' goal and could have suffered a bigger defeat had two or three very good early chances been converted. Nonetheless, Downton did score first in the 17th minute after Dan Thomas mystified the Hythe defence as he weaved into the area and to the dead-ball line. He cut in on goal, beating another defender, and rolled the ball into the path of Kristian Greer who had the simple task of side-footing the ball home. Unfortunately the lead lasted less than a minute.
The Robins reacted well to the disappointment of the equaliser and continued to dominate possession. Terry Cox in the centre of the park for Hythe struggled to get any grip of possession whilst Dan Telfer and Rae Hughes pulled the strings. Simon Colborne, in his 'new' role as striker, was to regain the lead for Downton with a tap in just before the half hour after Telfer, Greer and James Sainsbury had been involved in a move that stretched the visitors from right to left and then back again.
The home team increased the lead five minutes into the second half when a powerful 'shross' [his word] from Telfer squirmed out of the keeper's reach and over the line, following good work from Tom Aldridge, who had replaced Sainsbury at half-time. Four minutes later Greer added his second with another straight forward finish after the visitors had been out-manoeuvred.
Unfortunately, on the hour, the game turned a little sour when Matt Palmer was dismissed for retaliation, ironically, immediately before he was to be replaced in advance of the first team's FA Vase tie at Barnstaple on Saturday. As a result, Greer was sacrificed for Ryan Bishop, leaving Colborne to play upfront on his own. Bishop slotted well into a back four led by Will Knight that was seldom troubled and Colborne continued to do an outstanding job of providing an outlet, holding the ball up and linking with the midfielders.
Downton dominated possession and created further chances despite the one man deficit, the best chance perhaps falling to Thomas who found the side netting when through on goal. Will Twort was essentially a spectator in the Downton goal by this time and it was no surprise when Aldridge out-leaped two Hythe defenders and the goalkeeper to head the fifth following a cross by Hughes in what was the last action of the game.
The blend of experience and youth worked extremely well. The young players benefitting from the knowledge and 'guile' of the likes of Hughes, Colborne, Hoare and Palmer. And the senior players complimented by the energy of Telfer and others, who again showed great potential and progress. A very satisfying performance.
Report submitted by Jeremy Thomas
Lymington Reserves 5-5 Downton Reserves
5th November, Wyvern League
The Reserves travelled with a depleted squad to top-of-the-table and in-form Lymington Town, hoping to get their campaign back on track after a disappointing October. It proved to be an incredible end-to-end game with more twists than a Dan Brown novel.
Lymington began at pace and quickly proved their credentials with the sort passing and movement that the visitors hadn't seen from any opponents previously this season. It seemed inevitable that they would score first and they did so ten minutes in thanks to some indecisive defending.
But The Robins came back into the game and started to create chances of their own. Just before the half-hour, Simon Colborne slid James Sainsbury through one-on-one with the keeper. Sainsbury coolly side footed the ball past the on-rushing stopper and the scores were level.
Alas, parity was short lived when Jack Edwards was perhaps harshly penalised and cautioned for a challenge in the area. The resulting spot kick was unstoppable. Things got worse for the visitors when 6 minutes later Ian Meatcher was penalised for hand-ball in the box and again the penalty was dispatched with applomb. Three minutes before half-time Lymington added a fourth when a shot from distance squirmed through the grasp of Will Twort in the Downton goal.
Downton was now the metaphorical 'boxer on the ropes' in desperate need of the bell. The half-time whistle saved the visitors from further punishment and we were able to use the interval to regain much needed composure and refocus.
What a transformation! The Robins came out with renewed energy and commitment and were back in the game in the first minute of the second half when Colborne played Dan Thomas through for the young winger to be hauled down in the area. Dan Telfer gave the keeper no chance from the spot to provide the visitors with a glimmer of hope. The glimmer brightened six minutes later when the impressive Telfer played Colborne through to hammer his shot past the keeper and bring Downton within one. Telfer scored perhaps the goal of the game, on 57 minutes, when he thundered a shot from 30 yards into the top corner to level the game. Three goals in the first 12 minutes of the half!
It seemed that the wheels were falling off for the table-toppers and their woes multiplied when their left-back was dismissed following another reckless challenge on Thomas - a challenge which saw him earn a second yellow card having being the guilty party in the earlier penalty award. However, rather than enabling Downton to take total control of the game, the dismissal had the effect (as it so often does) of motivating the ten to play as if 12. The game was now truly open and end-to-end with both sides creating and squandering chances.
Nonetheless it was Downton who completed the incredible comeback by snatching the lead when Colborne headed home a Telfer corner to give Downton a lead on 72 minutes that had seemed impossible at half-time.
Lymington responding by going to 3 at the back, inevitably creating opportunities for Downton to increase the advantage, but an excellent save by the home keeper from debutant Sam Harding, followed by an even better block when at full stretch he was able to tip another terrific Dan Telfer strike onto the underside of the bar, kept the 'Limos' in the hunt. Going forward they continued to impress with the speed and quality of their attacking play, but the Robins defended stoically and in numbers well marshalled by the outstanding Will Knight.
As the last few minutes ticked away, the home team laid siege to the Downton goal and were rewarded in the final minute when The Robins failed to clear the ball and allowed a Lymington striker time to fire the ball past the unfortunate Twort - who had responded with great resolve and maturity following his first half error. Indeed the whole team deserves much credit for coming back from 4-1 down at half-time to take a point from a very strong team. It's a performance of great character that we hope will be a springboard for even better things.
Report Submitted by Jeremy Thomas
Verwood Town Reserves 2-1 Downton Reserves
1st October 2011, Wyvern League
The Reserves were perhaps a little unfortunate to fall to a second consecutive league defeat away at second placed Verwood Town.
Robins started a little slowly, but soon got into the game and played the more controlled football, resisting the long-ball which produced the greatest threat from the home team. However, it was a loss of possession deep in Downton's half which created the opportunity for Verwood to notch a sloppy opener on 26 minutes. Again the young Downton team responded well and created a handful of outstanding chances before half-time without being able to get back on terms. Dan Telfer was particularly influential with the quality of his distribution to the wide areas.
After the break, both sides continued to play attacking football and whilst the Robins' discipline was strong, the equaliser continued to be elusive. As Downton pushed on in the last 10 minutes, Verwood took the chance to grab a slightly fortunate second. Nonetheless, Downton pressed forward again and grabbed what proved to be mere consolation in added time when Jack Edwards rose to head the ball goalward. It may have taken a deflection or two, but Edwards will claim it as he becomes joint top goalscorer. Telfer was again posing a threat as the referee blew the final whistle to prevent Robins from completing the comeback that would have given them the point that they probably deserved.
Once more there are encouraging signs from the Reserves and the result could have been quite different if they had been a little more clinical in the final third.
Ringwood Town Reserves 4-1 Downton Reserves
17th September 2011, Wyvern League
Downton found themselves up against a strong Ringwood reserve team in a thrilling encounter that was far closer than the scoreline suggests.
The first 20 minutes saw opportunities for both teams, but the following 5 minutes saw Ringwood score 3 times, including a stunning 25 yard curler. Heads didn’t drop though, and had chances from Simon Colborne and Dan Thomas go begging. Danny Hayward pulled one back for Downton on the 40th minute from the penalty spot, and further chances from Greer and Hayward could’ve seen a far better scoreline at half time, but it remained 3-1 at the break.
The second half saw Downton continue to press, and a screamer from Matt Gurd, tipped just wide by the Ringwood keeper, and a 25 yarder from Sainsbury, also denied by the keeper, showed great promise for Downton. Ringwood got another on the break, but, all in all, it was another promising display by a young and enthusiastic Downton reserve team.
Downton Reserves 2-1 Brockenhurst Reserves
10th September 2011, Wyvern League
Robins' Reserves secured a good home win at the expense of Brockenhurst to move into mid-table.
Downton enjoyed the better of the first half and opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Dan Thomas cut in from the right and rolled a pass across the edge of the box to Tom Cobb. Cobb's shot could only be parried at full stretch by the Brocks' keeper and Thomas reacted first to slide the ball home. Robins continued to push forward with Dan Telfer and Tom Mundy in charge in the centre of the park, but couldn't add to the scoreline in the remainder of the half.
Robins controlled the third quarter, despite being forced to reorganise to replace Will Twort in goal through injury. This change resulted in the introduction of Drew Parker on the left wing - making his debut on his 16th birthday. He showed real potential and significant threat as he was able to lose his marker and take up good positions on a number of occasions. On the hour he was played through by a superbly weighted Dan Telfer pass and he made no mistake with a thunderous finish from the edge of the box.
Robins continued to threaten and could have killed the game when a looping [Shearer-esque] header from the unfortunate Ash Simons came back off the bar.
Brockenhurst pressed forward in the last 15 minutes but struggled to penetrate a back four shepherded by the outstanding Will Knight, until in the final minute, when Knight himself was harshly penalised for contact in the box. Stand-in keeper Bishop had no chance with the resulting penalty kick, but the Downton youngsters ably closed the game out for a well deserved 3 points.
Laverstock Reserves 1-1 Downton Reserves
3rd September 2011, Wyvern League
The Robins' Reserves were frustrated in the local derby away at Laverstock and Ford. A dominant display of passing and movement in the first half unfortunately produced no goals. The Laverstock threat was stifled and possession secure, with Tom Mundy and Matt Gurd controlling the midfield.
Laverstock came out with renewed energy after the interval, but were knocked back onto their heals on 50 minutes by a looping shot from Ash Simons that caught the home keeper off his line and gave the Robins the lead. Laverstock advanced rarely, but Downton were unable to convert the handful of openings that they created which would have put the game safe. The failure to add a second 'came home to roost' when the home team snatched an untidy equaliser in the 87th minute. The Robins again pushed forward but were unable to regain the lead.
Nonetheless, it was another encouraging performance with a number of positives to build on.... and the league points tally is now off the mark.
East Cowes Reserves 3-1 Downton Reserves
27th August 2011, Wyvern League
A small band of young Robins travelled to the Isle of Wight to take on East Cowes Victoria in the Reserves' second league game of the season. [The first, on Wednesday, had been abandoned following an injury to a Hythe and Dibden player.]
Downton started promisingly and more than held their own for the first 20 minutes, despite a makeshift defence that saw Ryan Bishop in goal, Matt Gurd at centre half and Dan Thomas at fullback. However, the balance of the game changed midway through the half as East Cowes took the lead when the Robins' were caught out. They added a second shortly after following a stunning shot from outside the area that the almost faultless Bishop could only get his fingertips to.
Far from surrendering, the Robins fought back, with Hayward and Greer giving a good account of themselves in the centre of midfield with Sainsbury and Stainer looking dangerous. As the half drew to a close, a jinking run from Thomas followed by a ball into the box, enabled Simons to give Tom Cobb the simplest of finishes to reduce the deficit.
Having worked hard against a physically strong and experienced East Cowes side, Downton were unable to maintain the intensity for the full 90 minutes and conceded a third following a deflection off the unfortunate Jack Edwards. Deserving of special mention is Luke Francis at left back who chased and harried to the end.
Clearly the result wasn't what we were looking for, but the effort, some of the technical skills and the emerging team spirit is encouraging.
Downton Reserves A-A Hythe & Dibden
Wednesday 23rd August, Wyvern League Division 1
Match abandoned after 25 minutes due to serious injury. Report to follow
Match Report Archive
All photos (c) Denis Murphy/Sport4Salisbury unless otherwise stated