Last Saturdays win over Whitchurch may have secured promotion to the Southern League for Moneyfields, but the Wessex League title itself is still very much up for grabs, with Money’s being pushed hard by Portland United.
With no promotion play-offs Team Solent, in 7th place, have little to play for in the league (they do though have a Southampton Senior Cup game against Sholing), but pride was still at stake and as the match report for their previous game, against Newport IOW, in the programme mentions Team Solent have never finished lower than seventh in any league in their history.
Certainly Solent wold prove a much tougher side than the rather sorry Whitchurch and as the Moneyfields A-team-like bus pitched up at Test Park the players would no doubt have been expecting a tough contest.
Money’s were clearly up for the challenge and threw everything they had at a game in which every inch of ground and every ball was fiercely contested. The intensity of the game saw both sides were making numerous appeals to the referee and first-half bookings were received by Solent’s number 9 Giovanni Landu and Money’s number 5 Dan Woodward, both of which would later have a significant impact on the course of the game. It was Solent though who came out on top of the first half having opened the scoring when Landu found himself in receipt of a deflected low cross which he side-footed beyond the reach of the ‘keeper and into the corner.
Moneys, apparently keen to get going, returned to the field a good few minutes ahead of Solent “Do we want it, or what?” one of their players asked his team mates rhetorically. The response came from two long range attempts, one from Brett Poate which goes just over and another from substitute Marley Ridge. Failure to equalise though saw the Money’s frustration building. Unhappy with the time it is taking to retrieve balls that have gone out of play the Money’s players begin barracking the ref to “get the game going.” This they did particularly forcefully on one occasion when the ball went out for a Team Solent throw. Perhaps though they should have been careful what they wished for as the throw began a move which saw the ball flicked on towards the edge of the Money’s area. The move was then finished in style by Tyrell Mitford who running on to the ball lifted it neatly over the stranded Money’s keeper and into the back of the net.
Money’s did fashion chances of their own and Lee Webber in the Solent goal did well to claim one teasingly low cross which came in after a Solent player, attempting to see the ball out for a goal kick, was muscled off the ball. As the half drew on however, it seemed ever more likely that Money’s would go home empty handed, potentially delivering a huge blow to their title ambitions.
A third Solent goal at that stage was likely to have finished the game off so Money’s had a lot to be grateful for when their ‘keeper Steve Mowthorpe kept a flicker of hope alive by coming out well at to deny a through-on-goal Mitford at the near post.
As it happened the game was to take a twist when Solent’s Landu fouled a Money’s defender in their own area leading to a second yellow card for the striker. A one-man advantage would have suited Money’s nicely, but just seconds later, Woodward received his second yellow following a rash foul on a Solent player who was leading a counter, leaving it as 10 on 10.
Fortunately for the visitors this arrangement suited them better. Solent’s shape suffered from having only one striker up front, allowing Money’s experienced defender Brett Poate to drive forwards unopposed. Moneys managed to pull a goal back with a good finish from a corner, the ball sent arrowing into the net by an impressive Marley Ridge, before Poate himself slammed in a late equaliser. His delight and the cheering of the visiting fans, who numbered more than a few, demonstrated just how crucial a goal it may turn out to be in Money’s season. Money’s then had a chance for a winner, as Poate lined up a free kick at the edge of the D. Had it gone in the scenes would have been truly remarkable, but it was not to be a Beckham v Greece moment for Poate who sent it wide. 2-2- draw.