Burrfields keep Meon Milton's Mid-Solent League title champagne on ice with ‘seismic’ success

Boss Brian Kirby hailed his Burrfields squad for a ‘seismic’ change that brought about the shock result of the Mid-Solent League Division 1 season.

Jack Palmer scores for Burrfields against Meon Milton. Picture: Keith Woodland
Jack Palmer scores for Burrfields against Meon Milton. Picture: Keith Woodland

Burrfields travelled to Eastney Barracks knowing hosts Meon Milton only needed a point to clinch the title.

But after conceding early on, they hit back to end Milton’s season-long unbeaten record with a 2-1 victory.

Meon now need to avoid defeat in this weekend’s double header with Portchester Rovers to win the championship ahead of their expected promotion to the Hampshire Premier League this summer.

Meon Milton's Adam Beckett on the ball against Burrfields. Picture: Keith Woodland

It was Burrfields’ fourth win in six games and left them with an outside chance of finishing third - their highest MSL finish of all time.

Kirby admitted his side were helped by the fact Meon played 80 minutes a man short after a defender was sent off for bringing down Jack Palmer when clean through.

Yet he believed that shouldn’t detract from a performance ‘that’s been two years in the plotting.’

Kirby explained: ‘In the bad old days, we were the whipping boys - we had some horrendous maulings.’

Meon's Bayley Whitcombe (yellow). Picture: Keith Woodland

That is true, and Meon were responsible for two of them - winning both league games in 2018/19 by a 10-1 margin.

‘Meon have been the best side this season and fully deserve to win the league, and I am sure they will do the business against Portchester,’ Kirby added.

‘We kept to our values, we like to play the right way.

‘We were aware Meon only needed a point and we’d seen the league had brought the trophy and the medals, so that made for an easy team talk!’

Action from Meon Milton (yellow) v Stubbington. Picture: Keith Woodland

Despite that, Meon still took an early lead, through midfielder Adam Beckett, before they had a man sent off for bringing down Jack Palmer when he was clean through.

‘It was a brave decision by the referee given the circumstances, so early on, but it was the right decision.

‘In the end we were able to control the game better than if it had stayed 11 v 11. But I don’t want to take anything away from my players because, to a man, they were heroic.

‘It’s been a seismic change to come from where we were.’

Top scorer Palmer netted twice as Burrfields hit back, winning high praise from his boss.

‘Jack can create something out of nothing, and one of his goals - an angled chip over the keeper - was sublime. It was on a different level to what you would normally expect in our league. He’s a class act.’

Having kept their title champagne on ice, Burrfields can now help Meon to crack open the bubbly. Even if Meon were to lose both games to Portchester, they would still be crowned champions if Burrfields avoided defeat against Mob Albion.

Burrfields would finish third if they were to win, and Kirby said: ‘That would be a fantastic achievement given how we started the season and the cards we were dealt when lockdown was eased.’

Kirby’s side restarted the season in early April bottom of Division 1, as their only wins prior to the December lockdown were against teams in the bottom half (who subsequently formed Division 2).

Next season, there will be two Burrfields teams in the MSL as a reserve side has been accepted into the second division.

‘That’s a big thing for this club,’ said Kirby. ‘We’re always saying we’re a progressive club and it’s the right thing to do because of our strength in depth.

‘When players sign on for next season they won’t be signing for the first team or reserves, they’ll be signing for the club. It’ll be up to them to show the level they deserve to play at.’

Mob maintained their outside title chance with a 7-1 victory over rock bottom AFC Stubbington. Top scorer Harry Potter and James Gurney both struck twice with Barry Keogh, Mike Newman and Mike Prew also netting.