Bax of the net

by David Morgan

Andover 2-3 Molesey 

Moles: Owen Bent '5 , Matt Baxter '15, '85
Over: Ian Davies '63 Mark James '69 

Molesey found relief from their early pre-season disappointments this Saturday as they made the relatively long away trip to Hampshire to face Andover in the preliminary round of the FA Cup. Molesey had earned this away trip after captain Steve Browns famous last minute winner against Sidley United in the previous round, whereas this was the round that Andover enter at.

Molesey made a few changes after the late showing against Ash with Dan Lucas giving way to the impressive Peter Adewumi-Martin, Ollie Dicks serving his suspension was replaced by the equally impressive Lee Elliot, Moses Spencer came in to replace Mickey Hughes and Andy Graves played instead of Jamie Findlay.

Molesey made their way out into the unfamiliar surroundings but quickly made themselves feel at home. Within the first two minutes Matt Baxter managed to steal the ball off of an Andover defender and seeing the 'keeper slightly off his line he attempted an audacious 25 yard chip, however his contact was a bit too heavy and the ball sailed just over the bar.

The Moles capitalised quickly on this early chance to try to seize the initiative, which they did after just 5 minutes. A cross from the right from the attacking full-back Peter Adewumi-Martin swung an inviting ball into the box which was only looped up to the edge of the penalty area. Moleseys other full-back, Lee Martin, did extremely well to beat a defender for the header and nod the ball down to Owen Bent who managed to nutmeg Andover 'keeper, Watson to send the vocal Molesey support into a full on party.

Molesey hadn't finished yet though because just after towering centre back, Moses Spencer, headed well over the bar Molesey managed to double their lead.

A high ball was looped up to the edge of the area where Owen Bent was challenging with an Andover defender. As they jumped the referee ruled that the ball had struck the defenders arm and awarded Molesey a penalty and a possibility of the vital second goal. Matt Baxter stepped up and coolly sent the 'keeper the wrong way and provided fine reward for the Moles who were playing some of their finest football for a long time, with quick attacks punctuated by one touch passing and outrageous tricks kept the Molesey fans behind the goal highly entertained.

In the 24th minute Molesey can count themselves unlucky for not grabbing a third goal when an extended goal mouth scramble saw shots from Steve Brown and James McShane which was well saved before Martin fired well over from a tight angle.

On the half hour mark James McShane hit a firm grass cutter from 25 yards but the ball flew just wide of the post.

Molesey were denied a third goal in the final minute of the half when Steve Brown played an exquisitely weighted through ball to Matt Baxter who scored before turning around and seeing the assistants flag up.

But for as good as Molesey were in the first half, Andover were for the start of the second. However they will be disappointed with the lack of goal scoring chances in the first 15 minutes of the half. That is until the 63rd minute when half time substitute Ian Davis was given to much time and space as he weaved though the Molesey team before beating Sheikh Ceesay in Moleseys goal.

Before the Moles could get their heads cleared for the first goal they found themselves level when a series of corners led to Mark James finding himself in enough space in the box to head home Andovers equaliser.

Molesey managed to stem the flow though and just after an Andover header which flashed across goal, Matt Baxter had a shot on the turn saved by an Andover 'keeper who flung himself right into the corner of his goal.

But then the killing blow was struck. In the 85th minute and Molesey fans thinking of holding on for a replay, Sam Lampard broke down the right wing before crossing low to the unmarked Baxter on the penalty spot. It seemed to take an age for him to get the ball out from under his feet but when he did he managed to beat the on-rushing Andover 'keeper and send the Moles into absolute delirium behind the goal.

Molesey still had 5 minutes of tense football to get done with and these minutes were interspersed with Molesey substitutions. As much to waste time as anything else Phil Dexter and Mickey Hughes were brought on for Owen Bent and James McShane.

The final whistle blew sending the Moles into further delight and it was clear how much effort had been expended by the Moles at the full time whistle when the players made their way to the dressing room. It will be interesting to see if it has any bearing on Moleseys bank holiday home game against Baanstead Athletic.