Petersfield Town co-manager Joe Lea hailed his side’s “mature performance” as they confidently swept aside third-placed Newport (IoW) with a superb 3-0 victory at Love Lane in Division 1 of the Wessex League on Tuesday night.
The Rams flexed their muscles in the race for a play-off spot with an excellent display against their promotion rivals.
Newport started brightly, but the Rams weathered the early storm and grew into the game before taking the lead on 32 minutes when Archie Greenough tapped home after a mix-up at the back from the visitors.
The Rams pulled clear in the second half and doubled their advantage in the 57th minute when Kieran Alcock beat his man before rifling a shot past the Newport goalkeeper.
Cam Smith added the third on 75 minutes with a confident finish after Connor Hoare stood up a lovely ball to the back post.
The win cemented fourth place in the table for the Rams, and opened up a nine-point gap over sixth-placed Downton.
“It was a different type of game as it was quite physical and the pitch was quite bobbly,” said Lea.
“The lads had to approach the game a little bit differently. I thought Newport were pretty good – they had a good threat, especially physically. They were a big team – one of the biggest we have played – but we played really well. We did all the horrible things you have to do and we played some nice football.
“For Newport to start the game as fast as they did is credit to them, but it’s a measure of how far we’ve come that we were mature enough to see that phase out – and then we took control of the game. Our pressing was good, we regained the ball and attacked with forward runs. I thought it was a mature performance.
“Newport had some moments, but that’s going to happen at this level. The most pleasing thing for me is we had two defeats in a row that ended our really good run but we’ve responded with two wins, and that shows how much we’ve grown as a team.
“It’s about character and we’ve got plenty of that.”
Lea was also full of praise for Petersfield’s three goalscorers.
“Archie finds a way to score when he doesn’t play particularly well, but I thought he played well,” said Lea.
“He often scores good goals but that was an ugly goal to score – but that’s his job and that’s valuable for us. At the start of the season we didn’t have someone who would pick up those little bits.
“Kieran has been excellent all year but the one thing we’ve asked him to do more is to go one against one more. Sometimes I don’t think he realises just how quick he is – when he goes one against one there are not many people who can match him stride for stride. He got half a yard and got his shot away.
“The nice thing for us is we’ve got threats in different areas. Matt Dougan played on the left and while he’s not as quick as some of the other guys, he’s a different threat when he drops in and plays little through balls. I thought all our forward players were exciting.
“Not many players at this level can make the type of pass Connor played for the third goal. He recognised all the bodies were at the front post so he found the spare man at the back post and Cam finished it well.”
Tuesday’s win backed up Petersfield’s superb 6-3 victory at Verwood Town on Saturday. Alex Barsa, Matt Dougan, Paul Agebseyi (2) and Archie Greenough (2) scored the Rams’ goals.
On Saturday, the Rams travel to play mid-table Totton & Eling.