Lavant played out there final game of the season away to Division II champions elect Newtown Villa in the warm Bognor sunshine on Saturday, safe in the knowledge that a final mid table league position was assured.
Both teams appeared to be in a relaxed mood before kickoff with Lavant unable to improve on their position in the league and Newtown only requiring one point from four games to secure the Division II title. With 5 minutes gone however the mood changed when Lavant’s Andy Strange won the ball in midfield passing to Matt Hine who managed to lob the ball over to the right wing where Stuart Loversidge controlled the ball on the bounce and blasted it past Johnny Whiffin in the Newtown goal, 0-1.
This was a wake up call for Newtown who then applied pressure and urgency to their play in an effort to get back on level terms. With 18 minutes gone Robbie Pinder suffered an injury and had to leave the field of play for treatment and as the game restarted Lavant were caught out of formation which allowed Newtown midfielder Elliott Stevens to find space and strike an unstoppable shot from 25 yards out past the stranded Martin Pullen into the top corner of the Lavant goal, 1-1.
With 30 minutes gone Lavant on the attack saw Loversidge beat his marker in the six yard box only to be pulled back by his shirt but the incident was unseen by referee John Hill and a goal kick not a penalty was awarded.
In the final 10 minutes of the first half both teams had opportunities to take the lead, firstly as Newtown’s Ryan Saigeman glanced his close range header wide from a corner and Lavant’s Loversidge outstretched header went just wide from a well crafted Pinder cross. But the score remained level going into the interval, 1-1.
At half time Newtown brought on Jonas Templeman up front and his introduction had an instant effect pressurizing the Lavant defence. On 50 minutes as Martin Ayer’s pass fell short to Giles Weller, Newtown swiftly intercepted and should have scored but for goalkeeper Martin Pullen pulling off two great continuous close range saves.
With 60 minutes gone Lavant sub Mark Richardson’s first contribution to the game was to give away a foul on the edge of the visitors box. Newtown’s free kick was lofted high into the goal area and amid the scramble Templeman managed a shot on the edge of the box, which hit the underside of the bar and bounced into the back of the Lavant net, 1-2.
With 20 minutes remaining Lavant brought on Simon Blackman and gambled by changing their formation by playing with only three at the back and pushing numbers up front in an effort to draw level. Lavant forged a number of chances and ensured the remaining minutes of the game were to remain eventful and they should have drawn level when Alan Sheppard chased down a mistake from Templeman and break free, however he decided to slowdown and unselfishly pass the ball square to Loversidge who’s shot from a narrow angle went just wide. The game eventually ended with Newtown Villa taking all three points and securing the Division II title.
Team: Martin Pullen, Justin Smith, Martin Ayers, Jon Strange, Giles Weller, Chris Bowles, Andy Strange, Robbie Pinder, Alan Sheppard, Stuart Loversidge, Matt Hine. Subs: Mark Richardson, Simon Blackman, Dave Kent. Manager: Dave Parker.