BEMERTON Heath Harlequins welcomed Wessex League Premier Division table toppers Andover Town on Saturday in what proved to be a closely fought game spoilt by numerous poor decisions from the referee.

The first 15 minutes were very even with both teams testing each other and the home side created the first scoring opportunity which saw Robbie Matthews' header superbly pushed over the bar.

Andover though did start to get on top and deservedly took the league on 17 minutes when former Bemerton player Reece Rusher finished well from just inside the box.

The games biggest talking point came on 40 minutes when Bemerton forward Jack Slade was given a straight red card.

Both dugouts were baffled by the decision as it was a hard but fair tackle. Only the referee can explain his decision.

Bemerton came out in the second half determined to not let the referee ruin a good game and showed great patience and discipline to keep Andover at bay and also look dangerous on the counter attack.

The home side got a deserved equaliser on 62 minutes when a Scott Hassell header was judged to of crossed the line although the referee still decided to book a visiting defender for handball on the line. Another bizarre decision.

The rest of the game was close with numerous chances created at both ends.

The game would swing back in the visitors favour on 79 minutes when Mike Gosney intercepted a poor back pass and finished well.

Bemerton then gambled for an equaliser and Andover made it three late on when Ben Cook finished from close range.

The home side still piled on the pressure and the Andover goalkeeper pulled off some fantastic saves to keep the score at 3-1.

After the game Bemerton manager Rae Hughes said: "Where do I start. Not one likes to criticise referees as it is a tough job in the middle but I feel today he had a very poor game. We have had him before and he was one of the best so just shows we can all have off days.

"Poor officiating a side, I am extremely proud of my players, to be 1-0 down and down to 10 men against a team of this quality, it could easily of been a cricket score but we showed great character, work rate and togetherness to get back in the game.

"Unfortunately a mistake has cost us again in the end. But if we take that second half performance in to the rest of the season, we will do ok.”

On Tuesday night, Bemerton are due to be in Wiltshire Senior Cup action away at Bremhill.

On Saturday, the side who are 15th in the table entertain Newport from the Isle of Wight, who are five places below them.