Alton Town 2, Andover New Street 3
ALTON slipped to their second defeat in four days as they succumbed to Andover New Street on Saturday.
Like the game at Whitchurch, it was the inability to take their chances when on top that cost the Brewers dear – and the chance to move to the top of Division One.
And just like last midweek against Whitchurch, the Brewers conceded another early goal as New Street went ahead on two minutes. A ball into the Alton box was missed by the defence and Luke Hooper, with his back to goal and eight yards out, controlled the ball and backheeled it into the net with Alton goalkeeper Justin Courtnage, who was expecting the ball to be laid back, completely caught out.
Buoyed by the early goal, New Street went forward with purpose and Callum Sweeney shot wide from the edge of the box.
At the other end, Matt Benham shot wide for Alton before the home side equalised.
George Bowerman chased a through ball into the box and was unceremoniously dumped to the ground by New Street keeper Tom Smith. Phil Moore stepped up and although keeper Smith went the right way the penalty was too strong and Alton drew level.
The equaliser spurred Alton forward and they had a shout for another penalty as Oli Graham appeared to be fouled in the penalty area, but the referee waved play on.
Alton’s mood wasn’t helped as New Street regained the lead when Sweeney headed home unchallenged from a corner a few minutes later.
And worse was to come shortly after as New Street added a third.
Courtnage only half cleared a through ball and it fell to Casson Spencer 25 yards from goal, and with the goalkeeper out of position, he fired home to put his side 3-1 ahead.
Alton should have pulled a goal back when Benham’s free kick was met by Stu Green, but with the goal at his mercy he headed wide.
The home side were enjoying lots of possession as New Street were pushed back, and Graham duly headed wide, before Alton were nearly caught out by a breakaway, but Hopper, under pressure from Liam Knight, pulled his shot wide.
The second half was end to end, with half chances at both ends.
Perkins shot over and Green headed wide again before Alton finally pulled a goal back. Bowerman got past his defender and as he was running out of pitch he managed to squeeze his shot past Smith at the near post.
Sensing at least a draw, Alton laid siege to the New Street goal, but the visitors stood firm and the goal would not come.
On Saturday, Alton Town are at home to next-to-bottom East Cowes at The Enclosure (kick-off 3pm).
Alton Town: Courtnage, Bicknell, Moore, Grindel, Phillips, Green, Benham, Knight, Graham, Perkins, Bowerman.
*On Tuesday night, Alton Town progressed to the second round of the Russell Cotes Cup 5-4 on penalties against Bush Hill after the game ended 2-2. George Bowerman and Jack Fowler netted in regulation time.