Baffins Milton Rovers move joint-top of the Wessex League after stunning derby recovery at Moneyfields in front of record crowd

Baffins Milton Rovers staged another stunning recovery to move joint-top of the Wessex League Premier Division.

By Simon Carter
Monday, 3rd January 2022, 7:31 pm
Craig McAllister wheels away, right, after heading Baffins level at Moneyfields. Picture: Martyn White
Craig McAllister wheels away, right, after heading Baffins level at Moneyfields. Picture: Martyn White

After coming from 3-0 down to beat Blackfield 4-3 in late November, Rovers netted three times in five remarkable minutes to win a pulsating Portsea Island derby at Moneyfields this afternoon.

In front of a Dover Road record crowd of 507 - easily the best in Moneys’ history - a Steve Hutchings double had put the home side in control.

After opening the scoring on 12 minutes, Hutchings netted a superb second goal four minutes into the second half.

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Baffins celebrate a goal during their stunning recovery at Moneyfields. Picture: Martyn White

But, sensationally, that was the catalyst for Baffins to hit back. And, by the 55th minute, they were ahead thanks to goals from strikers Jason Parish and debutant Craig McAllister and a sweetly-struck 20-yarder from Harry Sargeant.

Moneys had chances to level and ended the game with 10 men when defender Tom Cain was sent off for a second bookable offence in a melee which followed Lee Molyneaux bringing down James Franklyn as the midfielder bore down on goal.

Cain was involved in a scuffle with Baffins keeper Konrad Szymaniak and, having previously been booked for a foul, was dismissed by ref Jacob Wright.

Baffins’ sixth successive league win takes them into a four-way tie at the top of the Premier Division, but behind Horndean and Hamworthy United on goal difference.

Baffins defender Rhys Lloyd slides in to challenge Moneyfields striker Steve Hutchings. Picture: Martyn White

Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson made three changes for the derby, handing McAllister his first appearance and recalling Sargeant and AFC Totton loanee winger George Britton. Top scorer Rudi Blankson was on the bench.

Moneys welcomed back Hutchings, who had missed the December 28 victory at Cowes Sports due to Covid.

In a feisty opening, Callum Glen (Moneys) and Baffins skipper James Cowan were booked before Hutchings opened the scoring on 12 minutes, netting from close range after being set up by Dec Seiden.

A niggly first half saw further cautions for Parish and Moneys defender Adam Cripps.

Moneyfields' Steve Hutchings, left, appeals to the referee. Picture: Martyn White

Hutchings headed a Franklyn cross wide while, at the other end, Callum McGeorge tipped a rasping Britton shot over for a corner.

The visitors were furious they weren’t awarded a penalty when Parish went down in the home 18-yard box following a challenge from Cain.

Moneys were good value for their half-time lead, and four minutes after the break doubled it with a superb Hutchings strike. Turning his marker and running onto a Josh Hazell throw-in, the striker fired a 25-yarder that looped over Szymaniak and into the far corner.

It was his 21st league and cup strike of the season and seemed to have put Baffins on the road to their first league loss since November 13.

Baffins defender Lee Molyneaux and Moneyfields striker Steve Hutchings. Picture: Martyn White

Remarkably, though, Rovers turned the game on its head in the space of five crazy minutes.

First, Parish slid in to divert a Sargeant shot from the edge of the box past McGeorge on 51 minutes.

Two minutes later, Britton whipped in a sumptuous cross that McAllister, rising at the far post, headed in from close range. It was the sort of cross any centre forward would relish, let alone one as experienced as McAllister.

The comeback was complete two minutes later with Sargeant again running through to lash a low shot past the diving McGeorge and into the bottom corner.

It was a goal to savour for the midfielder, who was up against many of his former US Portsmouth managerial and playing colleagues.

Baffins had two good chances to extend their lead - McAllister meeting another Britton cross but heading downwards and straight at McGeorge and Oscar Johnston beating two challenges before shooting just wide.

Moneyfields' Steve Hutchings, right, and Baffins defender Rhys Lloyd. Picture: Martyn White.

Franklyn had a great chance to equalise, making his trademark burst from central midfield into the Baffins area. But, with Szymaniak rushing out, he rolled a poor shot wide.

As Moneys pressed for a leveller, Franklyn shot over and Hutchings turned Molyneaux well before shooting straight at the keeper.

Blankson came off the bench and saw a shot deflected for a corner before Molyneaux brought down Franklyn, sparking furious protests from both sides. Moneys wanted a red card, while Baffins were angry that the linesman had flagged for a foul after Wright had waved play on.

Moneys sub Josh Bailey and Blankson both went close late on as Baffins completed a Wessex double over their city rivals on an afternoon of passionate Portsea Island football that was a credit to step 5 and city of Portsmouth.

Moneyfields: McGeorge, Briggs, Hazell, Evans, Cripps, Cain, Glen, McGlinchey, Franklyn, Hutchings, Seiden. Subs used: Bailey, Pile.

Baffins: Syzmaniak, Williamson, Lloyd, Molyneaux, Sanders, Sergeant, Cowan, Britton, Johnson, McAllister, Parish. Subs used: Scutt, Blankson, Everett.