Horndean end AFC Stoneham’s incredible winning streak in Wessex League Premier Division stalemate
Horndean became the first team to stop surprise title contenders AFC Stoneham winning a Wessex League Premier Division game since the middle of November.
Michael Birmingham’s men ended the Purples’ run of nine successive league wins by claiming a 0-0 draw at the new £9m Stoneham Lane complex.
On a freezing cold night, there was little to warm the spectators in terms of goalmouth incidents and clear-cut opportunities to break the deadlock.
There were few chances in a first half which Horndean shaded, and even fewer chances in a very tight second 45 minutes as defences dominated.
It was easy to see how Stoneham possess the second best defensive record in the division as they seek to win the title at the first time of asking.
They had only conceded six goals in winning 11 of their previous 12 league matches - a run which started after their last loss at Tadley on October 19.
Stoneham have now kept eight clean sheets in their last 13 Wessex fixtures, and have only conceded more than one goal once - in a 2-2 draw at Hamworthy on November 19.
Keeper Tom Parker-Trott only had one major save to make in each half against a Horndean side badly missing their three top scorers.
Bobby Scott (21 goals) and Connor Duffin (7 goals) were absent from the squad, while the fit-again Jack Maloney (7 goals) was an unused sub.
On 29 minutes, Parker-Trott had to get down quickly at his near post to turn a Mark Smith shot away for a corner after Harry Jackson had put him clear on the left side of the penalty box.
And on 75 minutes he back-pedalled to fingertip a 30-yard effort from Ash Howes over his bar.
That was after Parker-Trott’s own clearance had struck a Horndean player and rebounded to Howes.
While the home keeper only had to make those two saves, that was still two more than Horndean’s Lloyd Thomas was called on to make.
Stoneham operated a 4-3-3 system with ex-US Portsmouth and Fareham Town man Callum Laycock as a central striker with leading scorer Scott Hills and Nathan Clements playing either side.
But in the same way that Stoneham centre halves Matt Palmer and Ben Clark combined for a firm Purple wall, so Louis Martin and Jack Lee did likewise for the visitors.
Clements screwed a shot wide in the first half, but otherwise Thomas was hardly tested on an evening where a 0-0 stalemate looked a good call after half an hour, and so it proved.
Stoneham are now five points adrift of leaders Alresford, but have two games in hand.
Horndean drop a place to fourth as Lymington followed up their weekend win at AFC Portchester by defeating Portland 2-1 with goals from Dom Falco and Sam House.
Fareham Town produced a storming second half performance to beat Cowes Sports 4-1 at Westwood Park.
It was 1-1 at the interval with Simon Woods grabbing the Reds’ goal.
After the break Pete Stiles' team took charge with further goals from Archie Wilcox (2) and Ethan Jones.
'In the end we could have scored eight,' said Stiles as Cowes crashed to their 10th successive home loss in all competitions.
'In the first half we looked a bit off the pace but after the break we were right at it.'
Holders Baffins Milton Rovers are desperate for the rains to stay away so they can finally stage their Wessex League Cup tie against Brockenhurst at the PMC Stadium on Wednesday (7.45pm).
If the tie goes ahead, it will be only the third home game since November 6 for Steve Leigh's side because of continuing pitch problems at the PMC Stadium.
The winners host AFC Stoneham in the quarter-finals.