Baffins’ Harry Sargeant has last laugh on former colleagues as he makes goalscoring return to US Portsmouth in Wessex League Premier derby success
For the second time in five months, Harry Sargeant arrived at the far post to score a rare goal at the Victory Stadium.
Back in early May, the midfielder sealed US Portsmouth’s 2-0 FA Vase quarter-final win against Flackwell Heath with a late header.
It was his first goal since January 2020 and kept a remarkable footballing fairytale alive.
Tonight, from almost the same position in the same penalty area, Sergeant arrived to head in a cross from George Britton.
But this time his goal was AGAINST US Portsmouth. And this time, instead of a late clincher, it was the first goal in Baffins Milton Rovers’ ultimately comfortable 3-0 Wessex League Premier Division success at their Portsea Island neighbours.
It maintained Baffins’ unbeaten Premier record in 2021/22, sending them back to second place, and they have now conceded just one goal in their last six league games.
Sergeant certainly had the last laugh on some of his former USP colleagues who are now at Moneyfields.
A group of them had good naturedly jeered his name when it was read out over the tannoy pre-match, and there were cheers when he was booked for a foul just minutes after USP right-back Owen Scammell had been cautioned for a late lunge on Callum Dark which, after lengthy treatment, saw the Rovers midfielder limping off.
Sargeant’s former US colleagues couldn’t have expected to witness him scoring - after all, that’s not his speciality. But that’s exactly what they saw on 36 minutes when Baffins took a deserved lead.
Britton, handed his debut on the right wing, had almost provided an assist after 11 minutes - Dart firing one of numerous right-wing crosses from the former Aldershot, Worthing and Bognor man against a post with keeper Damien Kelsall rooted to the spot.
US were guilty of giving Britton too much space to attack left-back John Cass, and they failed to heed the warning signs when another cross was headed in by Sargeant.
It had been an end-to-end affair for the first 25 minutes, with Dan Sibley’s pace on the US left a big threat to Baffins.
But from then on until the final whistle, the visiting defence was largely untroubled.
Tommy Scutt was at the heart of most of Baffins’ second half chances.
He perhaps should have scored on 64 minutes, but saw Kelsall rush out to block a shot at the expense of a corner.
But he wasn’t to be denied his sixth goal of the campaign seven minutes later, cutting in and netting with a low 20-yarder that Kelsall would have been disappointed to have conceded.
That was a match-clinching goal, though in fairness USP had never really looked like conjuring an equaliser. Too often the hosts were guilty of hopeful long balls out of defence which the vastly-experienced Lee Molyneaux had little trouble in gobbling up.
When US did get the ball down, there were few options up front - a problem clearly on view when sub Dylan Riches pulled the ball back from near the touchline across the Baffins’ six-yard box. It was a virtual tap in but there wasn’t a single home shirt lurking.
If ever a side looked comfortable at 1-0 up, it was Rovers.
Baffins, though, grabbed a third in stoppage time when Scutt delivered a lovely through ball over the head of the last US defender. Oscar Johnston collected it, ran through and produced a calm finish past Kelsall.
It was a goal which underlined the difference between the two sides. Baffins had that extra quality which, in fairness, they should have given the Pompey Academy pedigrees of Scutt and Johnston and the higher league experience of Molyneaux and central defensive partner Ed Sanders.
And the addition of Britton, who once had trials with West Bromwich Albion, looks to have given Rovers extra creative flair alongside that provided by Scutt and Dart. Don’t forget, this was a win also achieved without injured strikers Jason Parish and Alex Przespolewski.
No-one at Rovers should be getting carried away, of course. Of their five league wins so far, USP - in eighth - are the highest-placed team they have beaten so far. Harder tests lie ahead, though in all probability a home game against rock bottom Hythe & Dibden this coming Saturday is unlikely to be one of them.
For USP, two more PO postcode derbies await - at Fareham on Saturday and the hugely-intriguing clash with Moneyfields next Tuesday. On the balance of their showing against Baffins, US will certainly offer workrate and commitment. But they will need to show extra quality in the final third to bank any points.
USP: Kelsall, Scammell, Cass, Jeffes, Saunders, Smart, Chandler, Quirke, Johnson, Osbourne, Sibley. Subs used: Riches, Spencer, Richards.
Baffins: Syzmaniak, Lloyd, Dean, Sanders, Molyneaux, Sergeant, Britton, Cowen, Blankson, Scutt, Dart. Subs used: Johnston, Wellham, Clark.