Alfie Lis back at Horndean after pandemic-hit season at Bognor Regis Town
Alfie Lis has returned to Horndean after a pandemic-hit season at Bognor Regis Town.
The forward signed for the Rocks in the summer of 2020 after scoring 27 goals in two seasons for the Deans.
That included 19 in 36 league and cup games in 2018/19, when Horndean finished runners-up to runaway champions Sholing in the Wessex League Premier.
Lis has started the last two league wins - at Portchester and US Portsmouth - and also last weekend’s home game with Blackfield that was abandoned.
He has been part of a dangerous front three alongside Zak Willett and Connor Duffin in those two games, with Harry Jackson away on holiday.
Lis’ 25-yard effort led to Deans’ final goal in their 3-1 win at USP on Tuesday – keeper Dylan Kramer failing to hold the shot, leading to Connor Duffin scoring from close range.
‘I had a phone call from Alfie a while ago asking if he could come back,’ said boss Michael Birmingham. ‘You don’t turn down players of his calibre.’
Lis, who Birmingham signed from Gosport Borough in the summer of 2018, is expected to again feature when Horndean travel another short distance on Saturday to Baffins.
It is one of the most mouthwatering Wessex Premier clashes of the campaign, with Deans taking on one of only two unbeaten teams left in the division.
The third-placed visitors will leap above Baffins into second place if they can end Rovers’ 11-game undefeated league run stretching back to November 3, 2020.
Birmingham has praised the work Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson has done.
‘They have Lee Molyneaux, Ed Sanders, James Cowan - he was a pro (at Oxford), I had James when I was coaching the youth team at Portchester.
‘Tommy Scutt’s been at Portsmouth, Stan Bridgman’s been a pro at Portsmouth and in Finland, they’ve got Miles Everett.
‘Jason Parish has dropped down two divisions to join Baffins - that’s an outstanding coup.
‘It’s testament to Wilky (Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson) that he has managed to get those players to sign for him.’
Rovers assistant Danny Thompson recently told The News he thought the current Rovers squad was better than the Wessex title-winning ones he played in at Gosport and Petersfield.
Birmingham remarked: ‘They must have a hell of a squad for their assistant manager to say that. He must be very confident - fair play to them. It is the best Baffins squad in their history and better than two teams that won the title.
‘I’m not shocked (by their start) - they are deservedly up there.
‘They are the best team in the PO postcode area now, they have taken over from Portchester.’
Baffins have yet to concede a goal in four home league wins, while both clubs have only conceded nine goals in 18 league games between them.
Birmingham admits this season’s title race is likely to be the most open for years.
‘It’s a very competitive league,’ he remarked. ‘It’s the strongest it’s been for some time. You’ve got Baffins, Portchester, Hamworthy, Horndean, Fareham.
‘Then you’ve got Shaftesbury and Bashley. Most people’s money would be on Hamworthy, my money is on Hamworthy. I’m sure a higher division club will club in for (Hammers boss) Tim Sills.
‘But Brockenhurst have set the world on fire. They have a very honest side and beating Alto 6-0 (in midweek) was a great result.
‘It’s going to go all the way - you’re not going to get a team running away with it like Winchester and Poole did.’
This Saturday’s clash is the first of two meetings between Baffins and Horndean in four days - they take part in a Portsmouth Senior Cup tie at Five Heads Park next Tuesday.
Birmingham will field his under-18 side and hopes Wilkinson does the same.
‘Horndean and Baffins have the best under-18s teams around here,’ he said. ‘Personally speaking, I would love to see our Under-18s take on their Under-18s.’