Burrfields move off bottom of Mid-Solent League Division 1 with victory over Stubbington at Westleigh Park
Burrfields jumped off the bottom of the Mid-Solent League Division 1 table with a 3-0 victory over Stubbington at Westleigh Park.
Though the game was a little closer than the scoreline suggests, Brian Kirby’s side were good value for their three points.
The fact they had played the week before - losing 3-1 to Mob Albion - was a big help against a Stubbington side having their first competitive run-out since lockdown restrictions were eased.
Max Bleach grabbed the only goal of the first half before sub Max Anderson and top scorer Jack Palmer netted in the final 20 minutes on the Hawks’ 3G surface.
‘It was certainly an improved performance on the previous week,’ said Kirby.
‘There were a few positives - we got a win and a clean sheet and I was able to use all five subs. That will hopefully keep everyone engaged and happy.’
Kirby said managing in the Mid-Solent can be a balancing act between giving everyone a decent amount of game time, and getting results.
‘I said to the squad at the start of the season, it depends what you want. Do you want squad rotation or do you want the best team going out looking to win?
‘I said if you want me to manage it, my first priority is to win games - I make no apologies for saying that.
‘I won’t pick players out of form or if there are better options available.
‘Overwhelmingly, the squad want to win and they want to get better.
‘I feel we are starting to click now, though we are a long way off challenging the top teams.’
Against Stubbington, ‘it had helped that we had played the previous week. We weren’t ring rusty and they were a bit.
‘Stubbington are a good, young team - they will win games and they will cause shocks.
‘Defensively, we were very solid - their manager said they could have been there for another hour and not scored.
‘Our ball retention was better than it was against Mob, but it’s still frustrating me that we can lack the killer pass at the end.
‘For our last goal, it was a wonderful ball from Kieron (Singleton) to Jack that unlocked their defence - I don’t see enough of that.’
Burrfields began the brighter side, with Jesse Parkis firing wide and Bleach and Palmer testing keeper Will Hazell.
Hazell was beaten by Sam Waterman’s 20-yard strike, only for it to be disallowed, before Burrfields took a deserved lead on 37 minutes, Bleach scoring after his first effort had been blocked.
Stubbington hit back, striker Martyn Phillips firing an angled effort just wide before Burrfields keeper Duane Gray tipped over a fierce Jamie Lee shot from Stubbington’s best passing move of the game.
Tom Knibbs was a threat when he ran at the Burrfields defence, and the second half began with his shot deflected for a corner.
Stubbington were the better side in the first 15 minutes after the restart, but struggled to create clear openings.
At the other end, Bleach’s fine through ball left Palmer with only Hazell to beat on 64 minutes, but his angled shot drifted wide.
Seven minutes later, Bleach again played Palmer in. This time Hazell saved with his feet but the ball ran loose to Anderson who blazed a shot in off the bar.
The nearest Stubbington came to a reply was when Phillips lobbed just over under pressure from a defender and keeper Gray.
Bleach shot straight at Hazell after a good Burrfields move but, after Stubbington had gone three at the back, Palmer completed victory in the 87th minute. Receiving the ball from Singleton, he cut back in onto his right foot before lashing a close range shot past Hazell.
Burrfields have no league game this weekend due to the unequal number of teams in the top flight.
But the squad will be back at Westleigh Park on Saturday for a 6pm kick off against the reserve team Burrfields are launching for next season.
Matt Billett - one of the centre halves in the win against Stubbington - will manage the reserves which Kirby are hoping will be accepted into the MSL for the 2021/22 campaign.