ALRESFORD’S most famous sporting connection is John Arlott, the legendary cricket broadcaster, and it is known for its watercress beds – not as a footballing hotbed.
Until this season the Magpies had never finished above 15th in the football pyramid’s Step 5. But they remain only a point off second-placed Christchurch after two first-half Warren Bentley goals helped secure a comfortable win against lowly Lymington.
Bentley scored twice in three minutes, slotting the first after a slick exchange of passes with Mike McEnery before hitting the top corner from a penalty when Dominic Cope was upended.
Lymington’s Luke Ansell was denied a headed equaliser by the crossbar but that was as close as the visitors came before midfielder Cope secured the points by slamming in a left-footer midway through the second half. Alresford could have had many more. Lymington’s Stuart Williamson kept the score down with a succession of fine saves. Early on he was equal to Bentley’s header and he palmed aside a strike from McEnery, who also struck the base of a post with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Alresford’s Dan Strange missed the target with two free headers as well as being thwarted by Williamson from point-blank range.
Two goal-line clearances also restricted Alresford, but they still completed a comfortable double over a side they beat 4-0 in the reverse fixture four months ago.
It was something of a family affair with Alresford co-manager Danny Robinson, on his 27th birthday, coming out on top against Lymington boss Andy Leader.
“Andy’s my mum’s cousin and I owe him a lot because he got me into coaching at this level, so this is a hollow victory for me,” he said.
You would not guess there was a family connection going by the management styles in the respective dug outs, but Alresford responded better to the calmness of Robinson and Tim Cole than Lymington did to the bellowing of Andy Leader.
“It normally takes us until April to get 40 points so we’re delighted to be there in the first week of January,” said Robinson.
Cole said: “Before the season we’d have been delighted to finish in the top ten and when we first came here five years ago the aim was just to say in the league.
“We did that two years on the trot so wanted to push on, but we’ve been surprised by how well we’ve done.We knew we had a good side but didn’t know it would go this well.”
Alresford have only dropped four points all season at Arlebury Park, where their style of play is as attractive as the panoramic views across the Arle Valley.
“When we first came to the club we were told you couldn’t play good football and expect to do well in the Wessex, but Moneyfields first opened our eyes by showing it could be done,” added Cole. “We like our players to express themselves.”
Alresford have two away games in the league this week – at Alton tonight and at Totton & Eling on Friday.