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Mercurial Athletic Frozen Out!

John McKay  Sunday, March 03, 2002  20:45 GMT

Heathlands was the setting for a potentially exciting Hampshire Junior A Cup quarter Final tie between Bournemouth Athletic and unbeaten Division 2 rivals Mercury. Both teams went into the match with good league records and obviously good Hampshire Cup records for this season.

Both teams attacked from kick-off with the visitors looking particularly dangerous early on – building some good passing moves. However, Athletic were up for this one also and as the first half wore on they started to take a degree of control of the proceedings. Midway through the first half, the home side appeared to have taken a deserved lead when Chris Francis netted from close range. However, the visiting referees assistant decided there was an offside even though it was clear this was not the case.

Athletic were not to be denied the opener and this predictably followed within 5 minutes through the prolific Richard Broomfield following a great run and cross from Keith Selwood. Andy Lewer made it two a few minutes later when he scored with his usual style and the stage looked set for a convincing win – despite a dangerous visiting attack. Athletic made several clear chances but failed to capitalise on their first half superiority.

However, just like last week, the half time whistle appeared to come too early for Athletic.

The second half was a disappointing affair from the home side point of view with them struggling to gain the same superiority. Mercury continued to play to their own conviction and although Athletic pressed hard at times, their football lacked cohesion – especially their passing.

Too many times the ball was given away needlessly and all too easily positional discipline was lost in both defence and midfield.

Mercury got one goal back early in the second half following some hesitant defending but although Athletic were not playing well the equaliser looked all but certain. However, following a run into the home penalty area a clumsy challenge led to the award of a penalty and Steve Wellman netted for the visitors.

The match looked to be heading for extra time when a right wing cross into the Athletic area found Wellman unmarked and he duly scored the winner.

The Heathlands side pushed hard for an equaliser but ran out of time.

So Hampshire Cup disappointment but the old cliché "never mind, we can concentrate on the league now" never rang more true. Cranleigh the only other Division 2 unbeaten side lost to last weeks losers Wallisdown Liberal to open-up the chances of an Athletic title bid even more.

Come on you Whites!!!!!

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