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Rowe steals show for T&L
6:10pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in Sport
DOUGIE Rowe stole the show as Totton & Eling gave their Sydenhams Premier Division survival hopes a Boxing Day boost with a crucial 4-2 victory over Fawley AFC at Millers Park.
T&E led by just a single goal at half-time – Rowe having opened his account in the 24th minute with a sweet volley into the bottom corner following good link-up play with fellow frontman Bill Puckett.
By the eighth minute of the second half, he had moved onto a hat-trick, first running from the halfway line before again finding the bottom corner and then bursting clear and slotting past the ’keeper for 3-0.
To their credit Fawley refused to throw in the towel and, after Charlie Willett had replied on the hour, substitute Ben Bolton scored with his first touch of the game to make it 3-2 with 12 minutes to play.
But that man Rowe had the final word, heading home Eddie Zanin’s 81st-minute delivery to make it 14 goals scored in as many Wessex starts for the Millers.
“Dougie’s scored all four goals and hit the post. He should have had five!” marvelled delighted T&E co-boss Stuart Hussey.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time working with Dougie, particularly focusing on consistency.
“He’s a very, very quiet lad and the game can pass him by if things aren’t going for him.
“But we’re getting him to dig in and work harder and, even when we lose, he’s still chipping in with the odd goal.”
Yet again T&E were down to the bare bones, with just the starting 11 and coach Dave Puckett and co-boss Matt Hussey on the bench.
Recent signings Ben Thomson from Stockbridge and Matt Gray from Winchester City were among a stack of players unavailable, while dual-signed defender Jack Nicholson was called up by parent club Eastleigh.
The game was one of just two in the Sydenhams Premier to survive the festive floods and, given the number of players T&E had missing, Hussey admits he had half hoped it would be called off.
But he said: “The pitch was fine and it’s a big result for us. If Fawley had beaten us, we would have dropped into the bottom two, but now we’re six points clear of them. It was a huge six-pointer.”
Crestfallen Fawley boss Colin Lane believes it’s now any one of just three teams to fill the two bottom spots.
“One or two more wins will pull Totton out of it and I think it’s down to Romsey, Downton and ourselves,” he said. “What’s really disappointing today is that we were the better team in the first half and we played some good football. We created more chances than they did but we didn’t take them and our defending for the goals was poor.”
Losing central midfielder Dan Turner to a sickness bug didn’t help matters – and neither did a 10pm Christmas Day text from right-back Dan Molyneaux announcing he had gone to Verwood Town.
“We’re not a million miles away, but we can’t keep making excuses,” said Lane.
“This is the most depressing stage I’ve ever reached in football, but I’m not going to walk away. It wouldn’t be right,” he pledged.
“Unless a new manager could bring in a whole new team, there’s no point changing things. I want to stay and keep them up.”
Weather permitting, Fawley entertain Brockenhurst tomorrow.
T&E travel to an AFC Portchester side who have boosted their ranks with the signing of striker Nathan Lynch from Blackfield & Langley.
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