Baffins Milton Rovers stage stunning recovery to beat Blackfield & Langley in the Wessex League

Baffins Milton Rovers staged a stunning recovery against Blackfield & Langley to move back into the Wessex League Premier Division’s top five last night.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:53 am
Baffins defender Rhys Lloyd falls to the ground in the melee which broke out at the end of the Wessex League win against Blackfield & Langley last night. Picture: Martyn White.

Rovers fell 3-0 behind within the opening 25 minutes at the PMC Stadium, but an injury-time strike from sub George Britton clinched a dramatic 4-3 success.

The final whistle brought unsavoury scenes with Baffins defender Rhys Lloyd being struck in a melee and two red cards issued to Blackfield players.

Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson was full of praise for his players after a remarkable victory - especially in the wake of last weekend’s dismal Wessex League Cup exit at lower tier Folland Sports.

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Tempers rise following the final whistle at Baffins last night. Picture: Martyn White.

‘Full credit to the lads,’ he said. ‘I dug them out at the weekend, told them a few home truths - told them a few things they didn’t want to hear.

‘But here they showed unbelievable character, unbelievable togetherness.

‘It was a big three points - a few of the teams above us had started to open up a bit of a gap.’

With Lee Molyneaux away in the USA on business, Wilkinson was forced to pair top scorer Rudi Blankson alongside Ed Sanders in central defence.

Baffins celebrate their stunning win against Blackfield last night. Picture: Martyn White.

It was not an alien role for Blankson, who had played there in last season’s Portsmouth Senior Cup final against Moneyfields at Fratton Park.

Blackfield took a 14th minute lead through ex-Portchester player Owen Fee and quickly added two more through Gerson Ramos and Domenico Panesar-Dower.

Baffins’ fightback began when midfielder Harry Sargeant netted on 26 minutes and striker Alex Przespelowski further reduced the arrears before half-time.

Sanders levelled nine minutes from time, heading in a James Cowan free-kick, before Britton won it late on.

Tempers rise following the final whistle at Baffins last night. Picture: Martyn White.

‘We’d started better than we had done for a few weeks, the first 10-13 minutes - we were really on it,’ said Wilkinson.

‘Then they broke from our corner to make it 1-0. I think they scored three goals in seven minutes.

‘It could have been a long evening - they were full of confidence, they’ve got some good attacking players.

‘But I’ve watched them a few times, I knew we had goals in us - they concede a lot. They’re good going forward, not so good at the back.’

Tempers rise following the final whistle at Baffins last night. Picture: Martyn White.

The stats bear that out. Blackfield had crashed 6-2 in the FA Vase at Raynes Park last weekend and have only kept one clean sheet in Wessex League action this season.

‘We were down to the bare bones again,’ Wilkinson added. ‘I had four teenagers on the bench.

‘We put two of them on at 3-2 down and their energy and enthusiasm has enabled us to get back in the game.’

Harvey Welham, normally a midfielder, went on at left wing-back while Owen Pelham came on in the No 10 role.

‘They are a credit to their manager (under-18 boss Mark Robinson) and their families,’ said Wilkinson.

‘We talked about bringing in some new faces to freshen things up, and we might still bring in one.

‘But I want to give the under-18s minutes. We’re not going up or going down, and I trust them.

‘We’re a young side really - the skipper, James Cowen, is only 20.’

Another youngster, Lloyd, has been filling in at left back for most of the season even though he has always previously played on the other flank.

Regarding the scenes after the final whistle, Wilkinson stated: ‘The ref was different class - he took full control.

‘There was some argy-bargy, pushing and shoving.

‘It’s a passionate game - they had been 3-0 up and lost, we scored late, they were hurting, angry, disappointed.

‘We didn’t have any red cards.’

The boss added: ‘I gave the lads some stick at the weekend but they are a joy to work with. I believe in the group we’ve got - I signed most of them.

‘They have set themselves high standards and when they don’t reach them they get told.

‘But they took it on the chin (after the Folland defeat) and reacted.’

Blankson could well have to deputise at centre half again for this weekend’s Premier Division trip to Alton.

Josh Warren, who made his first appearance of the season at Folland after a long period of illness, could also be in the squad. Midfielder Stan Bridgeman is another who could return.