OLD youth team rivalries will be renewed at the Portway Stadium tonight when Andover Town host title favourites Winchester City in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division.
Winchester co-boss Tim Cole fondly remembers the days when he was going toe-to-toe with Town manager Neil Benson in the Southampton Tyro League.
“I must have known Neil for at least 15 years,” said Cole. “He ran the flagship Tyro side Dougland and I ran St Francis up to under-16s and then brought them across to Winchester.
“I know Neil’s philosophy on the game. He preaches good football and won’t have his sides kicking it long, so it should be a good game tonight.”
Winchester go into it in great heart having come safely through Saturday’s FA Cup preliminary round test 2-0 at Southern One South & West outfit strugglers Bashley.
Warren Bentley buried a goal in each half but it wasn’t all one-way traffic.
“We had a lot of chances, especially in the first half, but Bashley had a good 20-minute spell in the second half and we had to dig in before Warren got his second,” Cole explained.
Andover, in contrast, are licking their wounds after losing Saturday’s battle of last season’s Division One promotees 4-1 at Petersfield Town.
Two up at the break through Jason Silver and Phil Archbold, Petersfield doubled their tally through ex-Sholing striker Warren Hunt who stuck either side of Alex Dockree’s consolation effort.
It was a third straight league win for Ian Saunders’ Rams, who had stunned Winchester 3-2 at the Denplan City Ground six days earlier.
City have a clean bill of health for tonight, barring full-backs Dan Thompson and Danny King who are out long-term with ankle problems.
Former Alresford midfielder Andy Mott has almost certainly played his last game for City due to work commitments.
Next up for Winchester in the FA Cup is a home tie against the winners of tonight’s all-Sydenhams tie between Bournemouth Poppies and Bemerton who drew 0-0 in Wiltshire.