Tag Archives: Team Solent

Sholing v Team Solent. Southampton Senior Cup Final: St Mary’s Stadium Wednesday 3rd May 2017

4 May

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It’s long been my view that every cup has a unique history worth cherishing. The Southampton Senior Cup is no different and in fact can boast more history than most. The final between Sholing and Team Solent was the 99th in the tournaments history and the programme included a list of previous winners which included a litany of illustrious sides from the cities footballing past such as Bitterne Nomads, Harland and Wolff, Sholing Sports and Bitterne Guild.

Although the Southampton Senior cup attracts entrants from further afield appropriately the final pitted against each other the two best non-league sides from the city itself. Sholing had already had a taste of cup glory, just a few days before, having claimed the Wessex League Cup with a 2-1 win over Baffins Milton Rovers on Monday – a final they reached by knocking Solent out in the semi’s. As well as revenge for this Solent were also looking to defend the trophy they won in 2015 and 2016.

Solent are a side who are capable of playing some extremely good football and they provided a clear demonstration of this in the opening period of the game as they seized the initiative. Their pressure created several chances with Tyrell Mitford putting the ball agonisingly wide of the post, Jesse Waller-Lassen testing the Sholing ‘keeper with a fierce shot from range and Tobi Adekunle hitting the crossbar with another effort from distance.

Sholing were little more than spectators for much of the first twenty minutes, however as with the last time I saw these sides meet they remind me a little of Muhammad Ali against George Foreman. Sholing simply absorbed the Solent pressure and kept calmly working away confident that when the time came it would be they who would land the deciding blow.

Perhaps this sense of assurance stems from having Dan Mason up front. The powerful centre-forward, who plays well with his back to goal and ball to his feet, has scored 30 League goals this season – giving him the Wessex League Premier golden boot. As that tally would suggest Mason needs only the faintest glimmer of opportunity to find the back of the net and when he turns his marker to find a little space inside the box he duly finds the net for a goal which is very much against the run of play. Equilibrium was though restored soon after when Waller-Lassen powered through the Sholing defence and one-on-one with the Sholing ‘keeper unselfishly slid the ball across for Tyrell Mitford to slot into an empty net on 29 minutes.

The balance though was to last only a few minutes into the second half: Attempting to claim a floated-in corner Solent ‘keeper Bradley Banda dropped the ball. It was hooked away, but the referee spotted an infringement – a handball by Solent’s Jemal Wiseman, and pointed to the spot. Lee Wort stepped up for Sholing and though the eager-to-make-amends Banda got an elbow, or some body part, on it the power of Wort’s strike saw the ball deflect into the net for Sholing’s second.

A second equaliser did not appear to be beyond Solent, but the chances of one were dramatically cut when Solent’s Wiseman, picked up a second yellow for what appeared to be dissent. I got another sense of déjà vu, recalling the recent Solent v Moneyfields game in which a silly second yellow effectively cost Solent 3 points by allowing the title-chasing Money’s back into the game. Interestingly Solent’s manager James Taylor was not at the game as he was himself serving a suspension.

Waller-Lassen ensured Solent still had some attacking edge. The game was the Solent captain’s swansong, having signed for Salisbury, and he seemed determined to go down fighting, wriggling into the box and forcing a save from the Sholing ‘keeper at the near post. On the two occasions I’ve seen him Waller-Lassen’s quality has stood out. His vision is superb and he has a knack of playing oblique balls which no one else would think of as well as having an ability to put all sorts of curve and spin on the ball.

Whatever quality Waler-Lassen possessed it was however, not enough to save 10-man Solent. Sholing were comfortably dictating the pace and scored a third when Micky Hubbard’s long range effort found the back of the net. It had looked innocuous enough, but Banda – who was not having a good evening – somehow managed to let it through.

The goal finally destroyed what remained of Solent’s resolve. Struggling to get out of their half they increasingly resorted to playing balls back to their ‘keeper and became involved in a few niggly tussles.

The final whistle then was a relief all round. Though a few made speedily for the exit most of the 748 strong crowd stuck around for the presentations. Assisting was none other than ‘Roly Poly Goalie’ Wayne Shaw. Shaw has long been a well known figure on the football scene locally, but this season became something of a national celebrity thanks to his position on the bench during Sutton United’s FA Cup run. This undoubtedly says something about cup football in its own right, but whether it’s good, or bad is quite another matter.

The night though belonged to Sholing. Shaw shook hands and warmly embraced each Sholing player as they collected their medals before the trophy was lifted for the 99th time.

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Team Solent v Moneyfields – Wessex League Premier Division 13th April 2017

14 Apr

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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.

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Sholing v Team Solent – Wessex League Cup Semi Final

23 Mar

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As a fan of cup football (early plug – I even recently wrote a book on it) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness the semi-final of a cup contest I had yet to see in the flesh – the Wessex League Cup.

Compared at least to the Hampshire Cup and Russell Cotes Cup, The Wessex League Cup is a relatively young cup competition dating back thirty years to the 86/87 season. Created to supplement the newly formed Wessex League (the thinking being that every league needs a cup) it is currently contested by teams from across the two Wessex League divisions, the Premier and Division One.

The very first winners of the Wessex League Cup were Road Sea Southampton -a team who came from nowhere and reached some dizzying heights, before then disappearing just as abruptly as they had arrived.

Despite their lack of longevity the Road Sea Southampton side of the era can claim a spot among the Southampton local football hall of fame. Other legendary local sides include the Sholing Sports sides of the 1970s and 1980s and I’d also argue Dave Diaper’s Sholing. Quite aside from the FA Vase triumph of 2014 Sholing have consistently been among the top local semi-pro sides stretching back well over 10 years and have been unlucky not to claim more honours than they have.

Part of the reason for Sholing’s sheer consistency is the success they have had in keeping their side together. It’s almost unheard of for players at this level to clock up over 400 league appearances, yet Sholing have four players at the club who have achieved this milestone and another three who have exceeded 200. This couldn’t be in greater contrast to their opponents Team Solent who are the men’s side of Solent University. Made up of students, many of whom study on the sports related degrees the university offers, Solent’s personnel is subject to natural churn as students graduate and leave the institution.

Despite this difference in approach Team Solent have enjoyed a great deal of success on the pitch and arrive at Sholing’s Universal Stadium as holders of the Wessex League Cup. The university have also invested a significant sum – said to be in the region of of £600-700k – in the clubs Test Park facility and the team are managed by local footballing legend James Taylor, whose goals for AFC Totton helped edge Sholing into second on more than one occasion a few years back.

I’m actually quite familiar with Test Park as my daughters team play in a youth league which uses the facilities. Sholing themselves field a number of sides there, part of their admirable youth set up, so it’s worth making the point that both clubs have been a tremendous force for good to the local football scene. Another example being that Sholing’s match report is being compiled by a Solent uni sports journalism student who sits in the stand with his laptop.

With both clubs putting out good strength sides I was optimistic about the prospects of seeing a good game and the early signs were good. Nicknamed ‘the sparks’ Team Solent began with a zippy, electric urgency which stretched the Sholing defence. Immediately standing out was Solent’s number 10, team captain, Jesse Waller-Lassen who signalled just how dangerous he was with a wickedly arcing free kick which went just over the bar. His pace later earned him a golden opportunity to put Solent ahead as he skipped around his marker; Through on goal Waller-Lassen shimmied before sending a shot curling towards the top right corner. Sholing ‘Keeper Ryan Gosney was however, equal to it and stretched a long arm upwards to send it out for a corner. Gosney saved Sholing again later when he was well positioned to claim a close range header which again looked an almost certain goal.

At the other end Sholing generated chances of their own, coming close with a powerful header from a corner which arrowed just high and wide of the top-right corner of the goal, but having seen Sholing a few times over the years, their main characteristic to me seems to be resilience. Sholing can simply soak up pressure. In part I put this down to the teams stability – these are players who for years have done battle together on pitches across the whole of the south of England, who know each other and all their strengths and weaknesses inside and out. Is it a surprise that under pressure they just dig in and get on with the job?

Their reward came just before half time when Lee Wort was tripped in the area and confidently despatched the spot kick. It was perhaps a little harsh for Solent to be going in one goal down as were it not for Gosney they could rightfully have expected two goals of their own, but as the teams left the field there still appeared to be all to play for.

A goal for Solent was all that would have been needed to spark the second half into life, but it seemed as if they had lost a little of the zing which they had displayed in the first half and it was Sholing who claimed the second goal of the game when, on 76 minutes, Sholing sent a low ball into the box which was palmed away by the Solent ‘keeper at the near post, but only as far as the feet of Sholing’s Jamie Bulpitt who was left with a simple finish from close range.

As the game approached its final conclusion Solent belatedly begin to lay siege to the Sholing goal, but once again the Sholing defence effectively closed ranks and Gosney mounted an effective last line of defence. 2-0 to Sholing. The final, against Baffins Milton Rovers, awaits.

The Wessex League Twitter League

30 Apr

Call me boring, but I had so much fun with the Football League Twitter Rankings that I’ve decided to follow it up with a Wessex League version. Last night I trawled through Twitter and managed to  find the feed for every club apart from Lymington Town (if they do have a Twitter feed, do let me know and I’ll add it in).

Anyway here is the top three:

3.) Team Solent – 853 Followers

Despite being in the second tier of the Wessex League Team Solent, where they finished in 6th place, and not being known for attracting the biggest crowds to their Test Park Ground Team Solent have nonetheless managed to take third place in the twitter rankings. Not much of a surprise though as Team Solent are the Men’s side of Southampton Solent University which boasts plenty of media related courses alongside it’s football studies programme, including sports journalism.

2.) Sholing – 1388 Followers

I’m really starting to  warm to Sholing, and so it seems are a lot of other people. Reaching the FA Vase Final has undoubtedly been a welcome boost to the profile of the club, but you only need to look at the struggles of Totton and Eling, (formerly B.A.T) to see how well Sholing have done moving out of the shadow of their Vosper Thornycroft works team past and are engaging with the community. Hopefully their success will  continue into the Southern League.

1.) Brockenhurst 1624 Followers

To be honest as I was compiling this I was fully expecting the Sholing juggernaut to take the Twitter title as well as the Wessex League title, so was taken wholly by surprise by the team from the New forest, who have finished mid-table in their first season back in the Premier League. It’s a mystery to me how they’ve managed it, but a huge well done to them in managing to raise their profile to such a level. And depending on what happens at Bashley they may well soon be flying the flag for the forest itself.

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Wessex 1 Twitter

 

1. Brockenhurst 1624

2. Sholing 1388

3. Team Solent 853

4. Petersfield Town 806

5. Alresford Town 758

6. Blackfield & Langley 712

7. AFC Portchester 696

8. Verwood Town 645

9. Newport IOW 590

10. Winchester City 587

11. Horndean 578

12. Andover Town 513

13. Fleet Spurs 508

14. Bournemouth 498

15. Christchurch 486

16. Fareham Town 426

17. Hythe & Dibden 416

18. Cowes sports 415

19. Bemerton Heath 397

20. Folland Sports 365

21. Hamworthy 310

22. Totton & Eling 290

23. Pewsey Vale 282

24. Moneyfields 276

25. Romsey Town 269

26. Laverstock & Ford 265

27. Amesbury Town 256

28. East Cowes Vics 255

29. Andover New Street 252

30. Hayling Utd 251

31. US Portsmouth 243

32. Fawley 242

33. Downton 223

34. Tadley Calleva 212

35. Ringwood Town 207

36. Whitchurch Utd 178

37. New Milton Town 108

38. Lymington Town – no twitter

 

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