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Hallen 1 Downton 6
Man of the match, Declan McGregor
FA Vase 2nd Qualification Round replay, Monday September 20th 2010
The Robins recorded a sensational win in their FA Vase 2nd qualification round match against Hallen, taking them into the first round proper for only the third time in their history.
Saturday's game had finished 2-2 after extra time, resulting in the replay two days later. Hallen AFC, who play 1 step above Downton in the Toolstation Premier, welcomed the Robins to a top class pitch which ended up suiting Downton's fine footballing approach perfectly.
With Declan McGregor back from injury and Dan Gain retaining his place after a decent showing on Saturday, the Robins set out to attack from the start and were rewarded with three first half goals. Declan McGregor opened the scoring following Matt Redman’s chip over the keeper and this was swiftly followed by Dan Gain’s goal who latched onto Nick Turpins short pass.
Hallen had their own chances to reduce the deficit, but Downton’s trio of defenders – skipper Dan Newman, Lance Cooper and Olly Hoare – were resolute in their defending, including a fine off-line clearance from the Skipper.
With half-time fast approaching, McGregor once more found space for himself and doubled his tally for the day, sending the Robins in with a three goal cushion.
Downton have made a habit of not sitting on a lead and, within moments of the restart, Matt Redman had extended the lead with a low, rasping shot from a good angle. McGregor rounded off his hat-trick with another fine strike and Redman added another following a switch of wings with Dan Gain. Subs, allowing Mark and Paul Gulliver time on the pitch, changed the shape slightly but there was still time for Hallen to grab one back and Charlie Aldridge, who was by far the quietest of the two keepers, to pull off the finest save seen so far this season, palming away the ball with an acrobatic dive to his right.
Once more, manager Jeff Softley's footballing acumen helped create a performance which was simply outstanding. Singling out any player for man of the match after such a fine performance is difficult. Nick Turpin and Danny Western both created two goals; Matt Palmer was majestic in the centre of the park, and Matty Holmes sprayed the ball around at will. Olly Hoare had one of his finest games in a Downton shirt while his fellow defenders – Lance Cooper and skipper Dan Newman – were equally outstanding. Charles Aldridge made enough saves to keep the Robins ahead in the early stages and even though the game was over as a contest, his save late into the second half was remarkable. The goals and all-round play from Redman and Gain were first class. McGregor’s hat-trick, though, combined with his footballing prowess, once more made him the game’s top player. In essence, every single player deserves the award – a great night to be associated with Downton FC and a morning after where this particular reviewer has ran out of superlatives to describe the game!
Downton 2 Hallen 2
FA Vase, Saturday September 18th 2010
The Robins dreams in the FA Vase remain alive after coming from behind in an entertaining and open match against higher league opposition, Hallen AFC.
Downton welcomed back Dan Newman to the centre of defence, while Matt Holmes started on the bench. Leading scorer Declan McGregor was unavilable, meaning a switch in formation and a start for Dan Gain. Despite early pressure from Downton and another hatful of chances, it was Hallen who took the lead, capitalising on a mix-up in the Robins' defence. Nick Turpin came close to equalising on a number of occassions, causing a number of scares for the Hallen defence.
Worse came to worse for Downton at the very start of the second half, slipping behind to a further goal. However, a spirited display from the Robins and some neat trickery in the box from Danny Western brought about a penalty, put away by Western himself. 5 minutes later, Matt Redman grabbed his 5th goal of the season with a cracking finish.
The scores remained level at full time, resulting in 30 minutes of extra time. Both teams had chances to win the game, none more so than Downton, Nick Turpin once more racing through on goal, this time lobbing the keeper, Ray Johnson, only to see an impressive recovery by the Hallen number 1 who clawed away the ball from the line.
The match will now be replayed on Monday 20th September at Hallen's ground, resulting in the postponement of the Wessex League Cup match versus Fawley.
Downton 3 Cowes Sports 0
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday September 11th 2010
Downton left it late in their home league game against Cowes Sports but once more ran out deserved victors, ensuring they topped the table for the third game running.
During a goal-less first half, Downton had a myriad of chances to take the game, with Callum Robertson, Ben Halski and Nick Turpin all going close for the Robins.
The second half appeared to be going the same way until a masterclass in managerial thinking from Jeff Softley changed the game with bearly 15 minutes remaining. Dan Gain came on for Turpin, playing on the right with Matt Redman switching to his favoured forward position. Within minutes this change paid dividends, with Redman stroking home from 10 yards after strong work down the right. 5 minutes later, goalscorer Redman turned provider, his delicate chip giving the simplest of chances for leading scorer Declan McGregor to head home.
Redman himself finished off a fine personal outing, latching on to a swiftly taken free-kick to place the ball beyond the reaches of the Cowes' keeper in the very final minute. All in all, yet another good performance deserved of the three points.
Tadley Calleva 1 Downton 5
Hat-trick hero, Nick Turpin
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday September 3rd 2010
Nick Turpin’s second hattrick this term lead Downton to another resounding away victory, further evidence of their mounting challenge for promotion this season.
Downton started out with a number of changes to the line-up, yet always looked fully in charge. Matt Palmer, who recently joined from Winchester, had a fine debut, while Dec McGregor took up the Captaincy in the absence of skipper, Dan Newman. The three pronged attack of Turpin, McGregor and Danny Western created a number of chances in the first half, with only Turpin converting his first late on, yet this was a real catalyst to Downton’s confident performance in the second phase.
The second half brought a flurry of chances and a further four goals. Turpin grabbed his second after great work and an unselfish pass by Western; McGregor finished with aplomb, chipping the Tadley keeper magnificently. The best strike of the match came from Ben Halski, scoring a wonder goal from a tight 25 yard angle while man-of-the-match Western was again the provider, crossing from the right superbly for Turpin to thunder his header into the net.
Despite a last-gasp consolation goal for Tadley, little could dampen the Robins’ spirits on a day when, yet again, the attacking prowess of Downton showed that their sights are very much set on maintaining their position at the top of the table.
All photos (c) Denis Murphy/Sport4Salisbury unless otherwise stated