Category: The Match

Bournemouth Poppies put four past AFC Portchester

Written by Carlo Simone (@CSimoneJourno)

Bournemouth Poppies came out on top in an entertaining six-goal encounter with high-flying AFC Portchester.

After a Steve Flynn effort had kept the fourth-placed Poppies level at half time, the striker got two more, alongside a River Smith strike, to help ensure a 4-2 victory.

It was AFC Portchester who had the most meaningful chance of the fixture, as their number 11 did well to collect a long ball forward, only to hit his effort straight at Sam Jones.

Jones was then unfortunately at fault for the opening goal, in an otherwise solid display, as Matt Simms’ long-range strike was spilled over the line.

However, Bournemouth responded to this setback perfectly, as just a minute later Steve Flynn headed smartly past the AFC Portchester goalkeeper from a weighted cross.

Both sides then fashioned several promising chances throughout the rest of the half.

Firstly, Flynn missed an opportunity to get his second, after hitting his effort well over after the ball was pulled back to him just inside the penalty area. Then captain Ron Frost did well to turn his man before seeing his shot trickle wide.

The Royals were still a threat though, as a cross from the left-hand side was agonisingly close to reaching their striker in the penalty area.

Frost then attempted another shot from range with a free-kick that hit the side-netting, before Portchester flashed a free-kick of their own wide.

That finished up the chances for the first half, but the tempo was ramped up in the beginning of the second half.

Jones was called into action in the 51st minute to superbly deny the Portchester number 7 who had cut inside and released a fierce strike,

The Poppies then took the lead for the first time just six minutes later, as Flynn nodded in a header from a long Ron Frost throw-in.

However, like in the first half, the team that took the lead were pegged back almost instantly.

The ball had fallen to Tuson-Firth on the edge of the area, who hit a thunderous volley past Jones to restore parity.

The game then took another twist just three minutes later, as after a Bournemouth corner had been cleared, the ball was lofted back into the box for River Smith to tap home.

There was no quick goal to follow that crazy four minutes, although Dom Falco fizzed in a cross to Flynn which was slightly behind the striker, so he was unable to connect with it properly.

AFC Portchester peppered the Bournemouth goal with many free-kicks in an attempt to equalise again, to no avail as the Poppies defended resolutely.

Flynn almost turned provider, as his header played in River Smith, but the goalkeeper came out quickly to block the effort.

Flynn wasn’t to be denied his hat-trick though and he took it in some style.

Ron Frost headed a ball forward on the halfway line which Flynn ran on to. He then brilliantly held off the defender and placed it past the goalkeeper to finish the game as a contest.

The final whistle blew a few minutes later, and Bournemouth could reflect on another impressive display.

Bournemouth Poppies edge past Hythe and Dibden to lift Bournemouth Senior Cup

Report by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20) at MA Hart Stadium

Bournemouth Poppies emerged victorious in the Bournemouth Senior Cup last night after beating giant killers Hythe and Dibden 1-0 at the MA Hart Stadium.

The club’s eight-year wait to bolster their trophy cabinet was finally brought to an end after River Smith’s second-half strike fired Poppies to victory.

Manager Michael Cuffie opted to make three changes to his side, following last weekend’s stalemate with Team Solent at Victoria Park.

Full-back Aziz Aldahayan was restored to the starting XI, whilst midfielder Harry Cooper also returned. Charlie Langston was instead named amongst the substitutes, and Manny Ohameje started ahead of Nasim Meddah.

Recent signings Marcus Cullen and Meddah missed out on the matchday squad altogether.

(L-R): Ali Zintany, Manny Ohameje, Chris Speers, Sam Jones, Ron Frost, Steve Flynn
Chia Khider, River Smith, Harvey Elsom, Harry Cooper, Aziz Aldahayan

Hythe boasted former Southampton and AFC Bournemouth midfielder Jo Tessem in their ranks.

The Southampton-based outfit had enjoyed a successful, goal-laden run to the final, after taking high-profile scalps in the form of Brockenhurst, Christchurch, Poole Town Reserves and Hamworthy United – all higher-league opposition.

But it was the Poppies, flying high in the Wessex Premier Division, who started the brighter. An inviting delivery aimed towards Ali Zintany narrowly evaded the wide-man, with Hythe scrambling the ball behind for a corner. The resultant set-piece from Chia Khider was cleared at the near post, however.

Hythe flew forward on four minutes after a rapid breakaway, but Liam Golding fired comfortably wide of goal.

Steve Flynn, Poppies’ top scorer in the competition, then went close at the other end, narrowly steering a pinpoint long throw from skipper Ron Frost over the crossbar.

The fluid, end-to-end nature of the clash continued, and on 13 minutes Zintany went close to breaking the deadlock once again after rifling wide of goal following a flowing Poppies move.

The first golden opportunity of the final fell to Hythe, however. Filippos Terzidis collected an incisive through ball in his stride, and let fly from 12 yards. Only superb goalkeeping from Sam Jones, who had raced off his line to smother the effort, prevented the lower league side from taking the lead.

In what was rapidly becoming a tale of two excellent shot stoppers, Hythe’s Ellis Grant had to be alert to parry away Smith’s low strike on 17 minutes, before Hythe’s number one also denied efforts from Frost and Zintany minutes later.

River Smith secured the trophy for Poppies with a second-half strike

Grant saved the best of the bunch from a superb, curling effort from Flynn. The towering striker, who has also turned out for Southern League Premier side Wimborne Town this season, bent a strike that appeared destined for the top left corner, only for Hythe’s goalkeeper to acrobatically parry over the crossbar.

Smith was once again denied at the foot of the far post by Grant’s heroics, with frustration subsequently beginning to build within the Poppies’ ranks.

Cooper and Khider were swiftly shown yellow cards, and Hythe could even have entered the interval a goal to the good. O’Dell’s deflected shot dipped narrowly over the crossbar with Jones at full stretch, before Robbie Pittman headed the resultant corner off target.

The half’s final attempt on goal once again came from the side in green, Smith fizzing a drive onto the top of the crossbar and behind.

After both sides emerged for the restart, Poppies immediately set about trying to open the scoring. Just two minutes into the half, Cooper’s teasing delivery was punched onto the woodwork by Grant, with the goalkeeper collecting the dropping ball at the second attempt.

However, the shot stopper was finally beaten on 55 minutes as Poppies moved into a slender lead. A defence-splitting pass was collected sweetly by Smith, who unleashed a strike. The effort looked to have been fielded by Grant, before the ball agonisingly squirmed through the goalkeeper’s grasp and nestled in the back of the net.

Poppies boss Cuffie then made a double substitution, introducing Langston and Dominic Falco in place of Ohameje and Khider.

And moments after the first alterations of the final, Hythe almost found a leveller. A cross into the penalty area wasn’t dealt with by the Poppies defence, leaving an opposing player free to arch a header towards the far corner. Jones pulled off a stunning one-handed stop, however, to push the effort over the top and preserve Poppies’ lead.

Smith almost bagged his second of the game on 67 minutes, but was denied at the near post by Grant’s strong right palm.

With the tie still firmly in the balance, Hythe made three substitutions in search of an equaliser.

But it was Poppies who almost finished off their Wessex One opponents, Frost’s long-range effort almost deceiving Grant before the goalkeeper recovered to prevent the ball from trickling over the line.

Ron Frost skippered Poppies to their first trophy of the season

Jones was called into action at the other end as time ticked steadily away, but was found in unerring form once again after the ball had squirmed free at the foot of the far upright.

With 88 minutes played, a further guilt-edged chance to seal the title was squandered by Poppies, after Cooper’s low drive fizzed along the surface and was clawed out by Grant. Smith then fired the rebound wide, but the effort would have been chalked off by a raised offside flag had it been on target.

Falco then raced clear of the Hythe backline and fired wide in Poppies’ final chance of the clash, but the Wessex Premier side clung on throughout four additional minutes to lift the Senior Cup.

Poppies: Jones, Aldahayan, Speers, Elsom, Ohameje, Khider, Cooper, Frost, Zintany, Flynn, Smith

Subs: Langston, Garcia, Falco, Stacey, Harvey

Ali, Ron, Sam and River hold the Senior Cup trophy aloft

An appointment with the destiny

By Dan Davis (@dan_davis20) and Giancarlo Bocchetti (@gianbocch23)

Today Bournemouth FC has the opportunity to make history and lift the Bournemouth Senior Cup again after 28 years.

The  9th of May of 1990 will always be remembered as the last date when, with goals Dan Saxby and Lee Bolson, the team defeated Hamworthy Engineering  (today known as Hamworthy Recreation), to win the last cup of this competition.

Michael Cuffie’s outfit will have the chance tonight to return to days of glory at Hurn Bridge, Christchurch facing Hythe and Dibden as their opponents.

The Wessex League One side have defied the odds to reach the final stage of the competition, brushing aside higher-league opposition in Brockenhurst, Christchurch and Hamworthy United. Terry Cox’s side have also seen off Poole Town Reserves on penalties during their successful campaign, and promise to pose a real test for free-scoring Poppies.

Bournemouth FC secured their spot in the final after scoring three goals in every round to progress. A second-round encounter with Hamworthy Recreation saw the Winton-based club fall behind after the visitors thundered home a spot-kick, before Poppies rallied to down their opponents. George Hatch opened his account for the season with his leveller, Sami Garcia then edged the home side into the lead with his maiden strike, before Tomo Muruyama crashed home off the crossbar to set up a meeting with local rivals Bashley.

The third-round clash at Bashley Road saw the holders knocked out, as Cuffie’s side prevailed with another show of clinical finishing. On 37 minutes, despite the visitors being firmly in the ascendency, Bashley took the lead after Cameron Beard stroked coolly beyond Sam Jones from close range. But the visitors were quick to hit back, as Steve Flynn rose highest to nod beyond Jason Collins before the interval. Shiv Roushbaiani and an own-goal from Poppies centre-half then traded strikes to level the tie once again, before Stepan Neronski lashed high into the net to secure the team progression.

Bournemouth FC then won their ticket to the final, after easing past Lymington Town in a Victoria Park semi-final. Recent signing River Smith, who has superbly led the line after the departure of Mickey Finch, netted on 20 minutes to open the scoring. Further strikes from Flynn, now dual-registered at Southern League South side Wimborne Town, and Ali Zintany secured the victory – despite a consolation from the visitors’ Pierce McNamara.

Tonight’s clash promises to be another high-scoring affair, something now typically associated with a marauding Poppies side who have found the back of the net nine times so far in the competition. Hythe and Dibden, meanwhile, have collected three impressive Wessex Premier scalps – whilst scoring 11 times in the process, excluding penalty- shootouts.

Boss Cuffie has a welcome selection dilemma for the final, with multiple talented attackers contesting to spearhead Poppies’ strike force at Hurn Bridge. Dominic Falco and Nassim Meddah made their first appearances in red and white in recent weeks, the latter bagging the winner upon his return from Bashley at the weekend.

Hythe and Dibden may also be faced with an electric River Smith, who has scored nine goals in six appearances for Poppies so far. The visitors have also found the back of the net with ease so far this campaign and will be looking to the likes of Sam Woodward, Wayne O’Dell and Filippos Terzidis to secure what could be the club’s first piece of silverware in their history.

With the first piece of silverware this season up for grabs, it promises to be an intriguing encounter at Hurn Bridge tonight. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.

Poppies 9th Edition Podcast

Bournemouth FC brings you the ninth edition of our own made podcast, brought you by Ross Millen, student of Bournemouth University and member of Nerve Media and the Media Department for Bournemouth FC.

We have created this podcast with the idea to bring you the latest news for the supporters of both: Poppies and Cherries. Every week Ross will bring you the most recent news about the clubs,  interviews and so much more.

Listen now to the podcast that we have prepared for all of you.

#UpThePoppies

Eight goal thriller sees Bournemouth suffer heavy defeat to Hamworthy

It was an evening to forget for the Poppies as they suffered a 6-2 heavy defeat to Hamworthy United in the Wessex Premier Division.

Despite two goals for Bournemouth coming from Ali Zintany and Stepan Neronski, it was not enough to overturn the six goals from the hosts.

The Hammers kicked off the match and started strongly winning themselves a corner in the first minute of the game however the Poppies were able to quickly counter attack.

Bournemouth Poppies did start the game strongly and an inviting cross by Harry Cooper allowed an ambitious bicycle kick which landed left of the goal.

A poor defensive clearance from Hamworthy almost gave the visitors the chance to open the scoring in the 8th minute as the captain Fawzi Saadi fired a shot wide of the right post.

It started a very open match and thankfully Chris Speers was on alert after the opposition forward drove past three or four defenders almost presenting himself with a chance on goal.

There was almost a contending goal of the season if it wasn’t for the linesman. A set-piece delivered in by Fawzi from the halfway line was drilled into the box, chested down and volleyed into the top left corner, but the linesman waved it offside.

Luke Stone almost broke the deadlock against his former club in the 18th minute, but Sam Jones was the man of the moment to deny with a great save.

Second time lucky for Stone when a lovely through ball from Mickey Finch gave him a one on one opportunity to score and he did exactly that placing it into the bottom left corner.

Only four minutes later in the 25th minute Stone found himself on the scoresheet again. It was another through ball played to him but this time down the right and he slots it past Jones in goal again.

The first half drew a dramatic close as almost everything possible on the pitch happened within the space of three or four minutes.

Firstly Charlie Langston got spoken to by the referee and received a yellow after what looked like backlash.

As a result of the stoppage in play the Hammers had a free-kick near the half-way line, it was sent in and Mark Jamison found his head on it in front of Sam Jones and nodded it in to make it 3-1.

Only a minute later at the other end the Poppies were awarded a penalty for a nasty tackle in the box, Ali Zintany stood up to the penalty and perfectly placed it into the bottom right corner despite the keeper diving the right way.

The half-time whistle was blown only seconds after the restart and it looks as if Bournemouth have been given a potential lifeline back into the game on the stroke of half-time, however it was Hamworthy who looked much the stronger side.

It was a promising start to the second half and within the first five minutes the Poppies looked the better side, but they needed a more clinical final ball to break back into the game.

The Poppies made their first change of the game in the 50th minute with Pepe Smith coming on to replace Ali Zintany. However his first involvement saw a shot aimed nearer the corner flag than the goal.

Another close chance fell the way of the Poppies in the 55th minute as a corner swung in by the captain was headed on the cross bar and out for a goal kick.

With just over twenty minutes left of the game the Poppies got another goal back and it was game on. A lovely through ball from Aziz gave Makloufi a chance to beat the defenders on the right which allowed him to pass it across the goaline for a simple tap in for Neronski.

Only five minutes later in the 75th minute the Hammers found themselves extending their lead. It was a beautiful solo goal from Bayston as he lifted the ball over one defender and worked his way past another two before finishing.

Despite looking the better side in the second half, it was Hamworthy who scored again. Stone completed his hat-trick in style with a low driven shot into the bottom right corner.

Makloufi looked for a consolation goal minutes later but he’s powerful shot at the keeper was saved and went out for a corner, which came to nothing.

It was almost time for the full-time whistle but that couldn’t stop the Poppies from conceding again, this time the Hamworthy substitute Brandon Randall found himself with an open net and tapped it in for the 6th goal.

Moments after the restart the referee blew the whistle on a very miserable night for Bournemouth Poppies.

They came out in the second half looking like a different side and despite dominating the majority of the second half they weren’t clinical enough to put names on the scoresheet and then paid the price at the back.

STARTING XI: Jones, Aldahayan, Langston, Spears, Ohameje, Zintany, Makhloufi, Cooper, Smith, Saadi (C), Neronski

SUBS: Smith, Roushbiani, Cullen, Khider, Westley

Referee: Brian White

 

 

When the River meets Speers to beat Lymington Town

An early goal from River Smith and a second-half header from Chris Speers was enough to overcome the visitors.

 

The result takes the Poppies up to fifth in the table and only four points off of second place. They also face Lymington in the Bournemouth Senior Cup semi-finals on the 28th November.

After a quick change of sides at the start of the game, the poppies kicked off and looked really threatening from the very moment the game began.

It only took two minutes to break the deadlock as Sam Jones sent a long ball over the top towards River Smith which evaded the whole of the opposition defence leaving Smith to run onto it. He took controlled and slotted it past the keeper to give the Poppies an early lead.

Smith was looking for a second goal within the first five minutes as Fawzi lifts a ball over the top past the defence but the lines puts his flag up on the far side.

Almost a second goal in the sixth minute as another long ball over the top confuses the Lymington defence as the keeper and defence collide it almost falls for an open net but it cleared for a corner.

The corner is whipped towards the back post of the goal and it finds Stepan Neronski who heads it into the side netting

.

Mike Gosney had a drive at Charlie Langston towards goal and tried an ambitious chip towards Sam Jones, but he wasn’t even off his line and it’s an easy catch for him.

After loads of build-up play Shiv Roushbianai put a low driven cross in from the right hand side but it’s finds nobody and goes out for a goal kick.

The visitors almost had the chance to equalise after a low ball across the face of goal was almost tapped in at the near post if it wasn’t for Sam Jones. His save tipped the ball onto the post before it was cleared away.

Michael Cuffie got spoken to by referee Michael Ballard after kicking the ball away and giving his vocal opinions a few too many times.

Half an hour had gone of the match and it looked quite even despite the early dominance that the Poppies had. The main problem for both sides seems to be long ball over the top and following the bounce.

Huge penalty calls go around the ground as Neronski beats one man within the penalty area and appears to be tripped by the next man, however the referee waves all the appeals away and play continues.

Neronski was causing havoc down the left hand side of the pitch and took on a couple of defenders, he played a low ball through the middle of the defence which slipped through everyone and found Shiv at the back who can’t finish it.

Another long ball over the top was played from the defence onto River Smith who again had himself presented with a one-on-one opportunity but this time was a ball bouncing, unfortunately for him it smashed against the keepers chest and got cleared.

Some lovely play down the left hand side of the pitch finds Ali Zintany who tries to curl the ball into the bottom right corner of the net but Nic Jones comfortably saved it.

A corner whipped in by the Poppies captain finds Manny Ohemeje in the middle of the box and he tries to loft an effort over the keeper but it lands on the roof of the net.

As half-time drew close, Lymington had a couple of chances after a collection of deflections and the ball goes out for a corner.

The resulting corner got delivered it and found the head of Jake King at the near post who brought the game back to a deadlock as he calmly headed it into the back of the net.

There was no time to get the game back underway as the referee blew the whistle for half-time as soon as the ball was rolled off the centre-circle for the restart.

It could be considered a fair result going into the break as Lymington had a couple of chances to equalise earlier on in the match, especially when they hit the post, but after the early dominance from the Poppies, they’ll feel disappointed to be behind.

Everything was to play for in the second half as the team came back out, both looking for an opportunity to win the game.

Quick start to the second half by the Poppies as they looked to start it the same as the first one as Stepan Neronski drilled a shot just wide of the left post.

Ali Zintany somehow works his way past three defenders inside the penalty area and slides a ball to River Smith who calmly placed it past the keepers left hand side into the net, however the linesman quickly had his flag up to rule it out.

It’s another goal ruled out for offside but this time for the visitors after a shot on goal is deflected inside the box and bounces into the corner of the net, however the attacker who deflected it was in an offside position.

In the 59th minute the Poppies made their first substitution and it’s the return of the Mak. Sammi Makloufi has come back from Blackfield and Langley to play two games for the Poppies.

The Poppies managed to restore their lead after a powerful free-kick whipped into the box finds our defender, Chris Speers, who puts a bullet header past the goalkeeper in the 61st minute.

 

A failed clearance from the Bournemouth defence sees the ball land at the feet of Mike Gosney on the edge of the box. He tried to fire a shot towards the bottom right corner but it goes wide.

Sammi Makloufi dribbles his way past several defenders and plays a great through ball to Stepan Neronski in front of goal, unfortunately, came to nothing but he’s made a great impact.

Despite only being 20 minutes left of the match, the Poppies were looking to add to their two goals as Fawzi plays a brilliant through ball past all of their defence to River Smith but he was unfortunately just offside.

Marcus Cullen came on to replace Ali Zintany in the 73rd minute of the match and only moments later Charlie Langston had to hobble off the pitch after a late tackle and Chia Khider came on to replace him.

A quick counter attack from the Poppies after a Lymington Town corner saw four players take on just two defenders but the visitors defence did excellent to track back and slow down the play in the box denying a shooting chance.

Stepan Neronski had a golden opportunity to kill off the game with only five minutes left as he intercepts the ball from the defence to be one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he rifles his shot high and wide.

Only minutes left of the game and it’s the most end-to-end the game has been all 90 minutes. The Poppies again look to counter attack and what looked like the winning shot was saved brilliantly by Nic Jones.

Despite the home side looking far more dominant in the final ten minutes, it was the linesman who made the decisive call in the 93rd minute.

He raised the flag for offside seconds before Jake King slotted it past Sam Jones in goal and correctly ruled the goal out. There was a massive sigh of relief from the home side as they deserved to win.

Moments later the referee put the whistle to his mouth and blew for full-time. It was a victory that the Poppies deserved after coming out in the second half the much stronger side and could have scored several more goals on a different day.

Poppies 8th Edition Podcast

 

Bournemouth FC brings you the eighth edition of our own made podcast, brought you by Ross Millen, student of Bournemouth University and member of Nerve Media and the Media Department for Bournemouth FC.

We have created this podcast with the idea to bring you the latest news for the supporters of both: Poppies and Cherries. Every week Ross will bring you the most recent news about the clubs,  interviews and so much more.

Listen now to the podcast that we have prepared for all of you.

#UpThePoppies

Poppies Podcast 7th Edition

Bournemouth FC brings you the seventh edition of our own made podcast, brought you by Ross Millen, student of Bournemouth University and member of Nerve Media and the Media Department for Bournemouth FC.

We have created this podcast with the idea to bring you the latest news for the supporters of both: Poppies and Cherries. Every week Ross will bring you the most recent news about the clubs,  interviews and so much more.

Listen now to the podcast that we have prepared for all of you.

#UpThePoppies

High-flying Poppies prepared for Christchurch derby

Bournemouth Poppies have the opportunity to move into third as they take on local rivals Christchurch in tonight’s Wessex Premier derby.

 

 

Dan Davis. – The two sides meet at Victoria Park in contrasting form, with Poppies flying high in sixth place and Priory lying in 16th.

However, tonight’s visitors travel to Winton off the back of their most crucial victory this season.

Max Wilcock cropped up with the winner for Ollie Cherrett’s side, as they downed a resurgent AFC Portchester 2-1 at Hurn Bridge. Jack Satterley was also on target, as Priory recorded their third win of the new campaign.

The clash at Victoria Park promises to be a high-scoring affair, with both teams having no trouble finding the back of the net.

Poppies’ lethal strike partnership of Steve Flynn and Mickey Finch has seen the duo record 15 goals between them. Midfielders Ron Frost, Ali Zintany, Harry Cooper and Fawzi Saadi have also broke their ducks for the season.

Christchurch’s joint top scorers this season are Scott Joyce and Josh Kirkham, who have both notched three goals in Priory’s league clashes.

And despite their shaky start of the year, Priory have recorded two victories in their last three games – Wilcock’s heroics against Porchester were complimented by a Russell Cotes Cup penalty-shootout victory at Bemerton Heath Harlequins a week ago.

The previous meeting between Poppies and Christchurch came earlier this season, in an FA Vase clash at Victoria Park. A hat-trick from Mickey Finch was enough to down Priory, and send Poppies through into the competition’s first round proper, whilst James King slotted home a late consolation from the penalty spot.

Finch’s second goal was a snapshot of brilliance, a volley lashed into the top right corner after Frost’s floated cross into the penalty area – and the striker is once again in red-hot form to face Priory after tucking another goal past Andover New Street at the weekend.

Poppies emerged from Foxcotte Park 3-1 victors, despite a second-half scare against the division’s basement side.

Flynn had plundered his tenth league goal of the season to open the scoring on the stroke of half time, before captain Fawzi Saadi’s ambitious drive doubled the visitors’ lead. Finch robbed possession from home gloveman George Baxter on 82 minutes to slot into the unguarded net and fire Poppies into sixth.

Manager Michael Cuffie once again has the bulk of his squad to choose from tonight. Midfield talisman Frost may return to the starting line-up, after missing Saturday’s trip to Hampshire through suspension, whilst former Christchurch man Marcus Cullen is also available for selection against his old side.

Kick off at Victoria Park is 7:45pm.

Poppies continue on winning street after beating Andover

Saadi strikes as clinical Poppies brush aside Andover New Street

Bournemouth Poppies’ flying start to the Wessex Premier season continued with a 3-1 victory at basement side Andover New Street.

Prolific hitman Steve Flynn had fired Poppies into the lead on the stroke of half-time, before captain Saadi unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner on 57 minutes to place the Winton-based side firmly in control.

Claudio Herbert halved the deficit ten minutes later, but Mickey Finch wrapped up the points for the visitors late on after robbing Andover goalkeeper George Baxter of possession.

Rotation and new signing

Poppies manager Michael Cuffie made two changes from the side that emerged 3-2 victors at Bashley Road on Tuesday, with Charlie Langston and Stepan Neronski being restored to the starting line-up.

New signing Marcus Cullen, who put pen to paper for Poppies in a switch from local rivals Christchurch, was named among the substitutes for the first time. Chia Khedira also returned to the matchday squad after a lengthy absence.

The opening exchanges at a windswept Foxcotte Park fell in the visitors’ favour, with strike partnership Finch and Flynn proving to be a handful for Andover’s centre-halves.  A string of corners on 18 minutes resulted in Saadi whipping in a delivery, which was narrowly glanced off target by Chris Speers.

First warning

Pressure from the visitors continued to build around the Andover 18-yard box, but when Poppies did get the better of Baxter, they were denied by the linesman’s raised flag.

Finch hurtled towards the penalty area on 20 minutes, before curling an effort that appeared destined for the far corner. However, a defender’s timely intervention provided the onrushing Neronski with the chance to finish, but the winger’s tap-in was chalked off.

Andover posed a threat on the counter through the electric Herbert, and the striker dragged an opening wide of goal after driving towards the Poppies backline.

Luke Neller was the next player in green to chance his arm, but the midfielder’s strike from 25 yards failed to trouble visiting goalkeeper Sam Jones. The gloveman then rushed quickly off his line on the stroke of the half-hour mark to deny Zach Neve the chance to fire at goal.

A physical match

The affair took another twist moments later, after a robust challenge on Shiv Roushbaiani angered Poppies’ technical staff, but the referee kept his cards firmly pocketed.

The visitors continued to probe for an opener and should have broken the deadlock on 37 minutes. After a delivery was repelled from the Andover penalty area, Harry Cooper lofted a delicate pass towards the unmarked Finch, who stood poised to shoot at the far post. But as the striker looked to pull the trigger, a superb interception from an Andover defender snuffed out the opportunity.

Cooper then came close to beating Baxter at the end of a superb solo foray, but the midfielder blazed narrowly off target from 20 yards with Saadi and Flynn in support.

Deadlock gets broken

Defender Harvey Elsom then teed up Cooper once again after meandering through the Andover midfield, but Cooper was unable to make contact with the ball, allowing Baxter to collect.

In first-half stoppage time, Poppies came agonisingly close to scoring once again. An incisive pass through the heart of the Andover defence picked out Neronski, who deftly evaded the approaching Baxter. But from a tight angle, the winger’s strike was smothered by a defender’s heroics at the near upright.

Just when it seemed Poppies’ frustrations would be compounded by the half-time whistle, the visitors edged into the lead.

Finch collected possession on the left-hand side of the penalty area, and spotted his strike partner unmarked across goal. The striker’s lofted pass was unerring, and Flynn duly tapped home past the static Baxter to record his 21st goal of the season. After the interval, it was the visitors who once again emerged the stronger side.

Tables are turned

Flynn inadvertently side-footed wide of the target on 47 minutes, although the striker’s blushes were spared by the offside flag. Saadi then floated a cross into a congested Andover box, before Finch’s strike deflected into the air and was collected with ease by Baxter.

The Poppies skipper would soon turn from provider to goalscorer, as the visitors doubled their lead. On 57 minutes, Saadi spearheaded a quick Poppies counter, bringing the charge into the Andover third before laying off to Flynn with a clever no-look pass. The striker then found Saadi once again, and the visiting captain duly rocketed a drive beyond Baxter and into the top left corner.

A nasty altercation between Flynn and Zac Hine saw both players brandished yellow cards, as the home side battled to regain a foothold in proceedings.

A clinical side

The deficit was then halved on 65 minutes, as Herbert’s swerving strike deceived the sprawling Jones before flashing into the far corner.

Pressure continued to build on Poppies’ backline in the latter stages of the clash. Shane Locke’s defence-splintering burst into the penalty area seemed destined to hand Andover a leveller, but Jones plunged to his right and palmed the effort out of danger.

Substitute Kylen Lewis then hoisted a delivery towards the penalty spot, where Neve was unable to test Jones with a glancing header.

But with eight minutes left to play, Poppies sealed their victory through Finch’s tireless running. Home gloveman Baxter’s heavy touch inside the penalty area allowed the visitors’ rapid striker to steal the ball and slot into the unguarded net – rounding off another successful away day for the Bournemouth side.

There was still time for ex-Christchurch midfielder Marcus Cullen to make his Poppies debut, and the versatile man almost marked the occasions with a goal, firing over the crossbar in the game’s final opening.

 

POPPIES: Jones, Aldahayan, Speers, Elsom, Langston (Ohameje), Neronski (Cullen), Cooper, Saadi, Roushbaiani (Zintany), Finch, Flynn

 

Unused substitutes: Khedira, Head

 

Written by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)