Romsey’s gallant battle to avoid the drop from Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 2 is going to the wire, with the Abbeymen facing another ‘must win’ showdown with HAC at Hampshire Collegiate College on Saturday, 2pm.
A 4-2 win over Hamble – relegated for a second consecutive season – leaves Romsey one point behind HAC, who they simply must beat.
Even if they do win, Romsey will still have to beat Camberley & Farnborough in their final game at HCS on April 1.
The Satchel Lane derby was a typically feisty affair, with Hamble disputing Romsey’s crucial third goal and the game ended with a flurry of yellow cards.
Romsey took an early lead through Ben Butcher after a move involving Danny Miles, but Hamble responded immediately with Matt Cross equalising with a shot which spun in off Loz Scott’s pads.
Hamble then drew an excellent save from Scot and hit the bar – only to fall behind again as teenager Sam Barcia set up Zac Cooper to make it 2-1.
The next goal was crucial – and Barcia’s strike was surrounded in controversy.
After three mis-hit shots, Barcia found himself at a tight angle, and eventually flicked over the ‘keeper to make it 3-1.
After initially signalling for a goal, the umpires decided to stop play to discuss the decision as Hamble were convinced Barcia illegally controlled the ball with the back of his stick.
After a lengthy deliberation, the officials decided their initial decision was correct, and awarded the goal, much to Hamble’s dismay.
Hamble continued with their all-out attack policy and returned fire with Paul Barber powering a trademark penalty corner drag flick past Scott to make it 3-2.
Romsey’s fourth goal decided the game – Cooper beating two defenders, firing against the Hamble goalkeeper and looping up for Miles to fire it over the line.
But it could so easily have been curtains for Romsey – especially as HAC run into a 3-0 half-time lead against Winchester II.
If that scoreline remained, Romsey would have been down.
But Winchester staged a remarkable second half comeback and ran out 5-3 winners – much to Romsey’s relief.
Andy Winnett, Rob Gunchild and Tom Bollam squared the scores before two late Stuart Swift strikes gave Winchester an improbable victory.
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