Written by Ross Millen (@RossMillen)
A 2-1 victory over Lymington Town saw Bournemouth Poppies secure back-to-back wins for the first time since of the end of October.
An early goal from River Smith and a second half header from Chris Speers was enough to overcome the visitors.
The result takes the Poppies up to fifth in the table and only four points off second place. They also face Lymington in the Bournemouth Senior Cup semi-finals on 28th November.
It only took two minutes to break the deadlock as Sam Jones sent a long ball over the top towards River Smith which evaded the whole of the opposition defence. Smith took control and slotted it past the keeper to give the Poppies an early lead.
Smith was looking for a second goal within the first five minutes as Fawzi lifted a ball over the top past the defence but the linesman put his flag up on the far side.
Another long ball over the top confuses the Lymington defence in the sixth minute as the keeper and defence collided. It almost fell into the open net but was cleared for a corner.
The corner was whipped towards the back post of the goal and found Stepan Neronski who headed it into the side netting.
Mike Gosney then ried an ambitious chip towards Sam Jones, but he wasn’t even off his line and it was an easy catch for him.
The visitors almost had the chance to equalise after a low ball across the face of goal was almost tapped in at the near post. Sam Jones’s save tipped the ball onto the post before it was cleared away.
Poppies manager Michael Cuffie then got spoken to by referee Michael Ballard after kicking the ball away in frustration.
Half an hour had gone and it looked quite even despite the early dominance that the Poppies had. The main problem for both sides seemed to be the long ball over the top and following the bounce.
Huge penalty calls then went around the ground as Neronski beat one man within the penalty area and appeared to be tripped by the next man. However, the referee waved all the appeals away and play continued.
Neronski was causing havoc down the left hand side of the pitch. Next, he took on a couple of defenders, and played a low ball through the middle of the defence. It found Roushbianai at the back who couldn’t finish it.
Another long ball over the top was played from the defence onto River Smith who was one-on-one again. But this time the ball was bouncing. It smashed against the keepers chest and was cleared.
Some lovely play down the left hand side of the pitch found Ali Zintany who tried to curl the ball into the bottom right corner of the net but Nic Jones comfortably saved it.
Next, a corner was whipped in by the Poppies captain. It found Manny Ohemeje in the middle of the box and he tried to loft an effort over the keeper but it lands on the roof of the net.
As half-time drew close, Lymington had a couple of chances after a collection of deflections and the ball went out for a corner.
The resulting corner found the head of Jake King at the near post who brought the game back to a deadlock as he calmly headed it into the back of the net.
There was no time to get the game back underway as the referee blew the whistle for half-time as soon as the ball was rolled off the centre-circle for the restart.
It could be considered a fair result going into the break as Lymington had a couple of chances to equalise earlier on in the match, especially when they hit the post, but after the early dominance from the Poppies, they were disappointed to be behind.
Everything was to play for in the second half as the teams came back out, both looking for an opportunity to win the game.
It was a quick start to the second half by the Poppies as they looked to start it the same as the first one as Stepan Neronski drilled a shot just wide of the left post.
Ali Zintany somehow worked his way past three defenders inside the penalty area and slides a ball to River Smith who calmly placed it past the keepers left hand side into the net. However, the linesman quickly had his flag up to rule it out.
In the 59th minute the Poppies made their first substitution and it was the return of the Mak. Sammi Makloufi has come back from Blackfield and Langley to play two games for the Poppies.
The Poppies managed to restore their lead after a powerful free-kick whipped into the box found defender Chris Speers who puts a bullet header past the goalkeeper in the 61st minute.
Then, Sammi Makloufi dribbled his way past several defenders and played a great through ball to Stepan Neronski in front of goal. It unfortunately came to nothing but he made a great impact.
The Poppies were looking to add to their two goals as Fawzi played a brilliant through ball to River Smith but Smith was unfortunately just offside.
Marcus Cullen came on to replace Ali Zintany in the 73rd minute of the match and only moments later Charlie Langston had to hobble off the pitch after a late tackle. Chia Khider came on to replace him.
A quick counter attack from the Poppies after a Lymington Town corner saw four players take on just two defenders but the visitors defence did excellently to deny a shooting chance.
Stepan Neronski had a golden opportunity to kill off the game with only five minutes left. He intercepted the ball from the defence to be one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he rifled his shot high and wide.
Only minutes were left of the game and it was the most end-to-end the game has been all 90 minutes. The Poppies again looked to counter attack and what looked like the winning shot was saved brilliantly by Nic Jones.
Despite the home side looking far more dominant in the final ten minutes, it was the linesman who made the decisive call in the 93rd minute.
He raised the flag for offside seconds before Lymington’s Jake King slotted it past Sam Jones in goal and correctly ruled the goal out. There was a massive sigh of relief from the home side.
Moments later the referee put the whistle to his mouth and blew for full-time. It was a victory that the Poppies deserved after coming out in the second half the much stronger side and could have scored several more goals on a different day.