AFC Portchester lay down another Wessex League statement of intent by signing Horndean’s prolific Connor Duffin

Connor Duffin, left, has left Horndean to sign for AFC Portchester. Picture: Keith WoodlandConnor Duffin, left, has left Horndean to sign for AFC Portchester. Picture: Keith Woodland
Connor Duffin, left, has left Horndean to sign for AFC Portchester. Picture: Keith Woodland
New AFC Portchester manager Gavin Spurway has laid down another major statement of intent ahead of the 2024-25 Wessex League season.

Not content with enticing the prolific Ryan Pennery away from reigning Wessex champions Moneyfields, the Royals have also signed Connor Duffin from Horndean.

Between them, Pennery and Duffin have scored 111 goals in their last four Wessex Premier seasons combined.

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Add in former Pompey Academy prospect Harrison Brook - Portchester’s leading league and cup marksman in 2023-24 with 25 goals - and Spurway should not be short of firepower as he bids to follow Horndean and Moneys into the eighth tier.

And let’s not forget Scott Jones and George Barker, who between them have scored 43 league and cup goals for the Royals across the last two campaigns!

Pennery belted 43 goals in all competitions for Moneys last season, including 37 in the league.

In contrast, Duffin scored just five times in the Isthmian League Division 1 South East campaign - Horndean’s maiden season at that level.

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Previously, Duffin had scored 69 goals in 66 Wessex Premier starts for the Deans plus 15 as a sub since the start of 2020-21.

That included a 40-goal haul in 2021-22 when he finished as the leading Premier scorer.

He followed that up with 18 goals as the Deans lifted the Wessex title for the first time in 2022-23.

Starting his Wessex career with US Portsmouth, Duffin joined Horndean in the 2016-17 season, which was Michael Birmingham’s first in charge at Five Heads Park.

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Just a few games into 2017-18, Duffin suffered a horrific tibia and fibia break during a match against Sholing.

However, he was fit again to feature in the last four league games of that season as a sub, scoring in a final-day 7-0 thrashing of Newport IoW at Five Heads Park.

Spurway has also signed goalkeeper Jake Hallett, who he knows from their time together at Moneyfields in the Southern League.

Hallett is the second new shot-stopper at the On-Site Group Stadium following the retirement of Steve Mowthorpe following the Royals’ Hampshire Senior Cup final win.

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Luke Deacon, who counts Fareham and Hythe & Dibden among his former clubs, had previously joined the club.

Elsewhere, Spurway has kept the nucleus of the squad which finished fourth in last season’s Wessex and also reached the final of the Wessex League Cup.

Connor Bailey, Charlie Williamson, Marley Ridge, James Cowan, George Barker, Kane O’Keefe, Ryan Wilkins and Ollie Searle have all re-signed.

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