Dave Clarke at the double as Carberry clinch Mid-Solent League Division 2 title

Dave Clarke struck twice as Carberry clinched the Mid-Solent League Division 2 title.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 1:22 pm
James Willis (green, left) and Ash Wheatley in action for Carberry during their title-winning victory against Horndean United. Picture: Keith Woodland

They bounced back from a shock loss to Rowner Rovers to beat Horndean United 3-1 at Westleigh Park.

Those three points ensured Dave Bridger’s side couldn’t be caught, and they will end four points clear of East Lodge if they can beat Segensworth in their final game this weekend.

In a bid to utilise a bigger pitch than they are used to, Carberry deployed a 4-3-3 formation with Bridger, Ash Wheatley and Ash Sills up front.

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Carberry goalscorer James Willis, right. Picture: Keith Woodland

But after a goalless opening 45 minutes, and some poor finishing, it was two central midfielders who showed their forwards how to do it.

Clarke was on hand to sidefoot home after a goalmouth scramble and the same player converted a penalty after Bridger latched onto a through ball from Jack Saint only to be brought down by the keeper.

After Saint had given Horndean fresh hope by diverting a cross into his own net, Carberry restored their two-goal lead. Sills saw a shot saved, but he picked up the rebound and picked out James Willis to score in off the post.

Bridger has enjoyed post-lockdown fixtures which saw Carberry placed in the lower division once league officials had divided the 13-team structure in order to get seasons completed on a home and away basis.

Action from Carberry (green) v Horndean United at Westleigh Park. Picture: Keith Woodland

Though the league will operate with two divisions in 2021/22 - once new teams have been accepted in - no decision has yet been made on who will be placed where.

East Lodge player-manager Jordan Davies has told The News he is keen for his side to be playing in the top flight next term.

Bridger, though, is happy to remain in the second tier.

‘The games have been really competitive,’ he said of the Division 2 fixture list. ‘I think they’ve been enjoyable for everyone involved.

‘I’d prefer to stay where we are, I think that’s the right level for us. We’re in the right league, but we’ll see what happens.’

There is talk of a supplementary cup tournament for Mid-Solent clubs once league fixtures are completed, but Bridger said: ‘We won’t be entering.

‘A few guys play cricket and some want to do other things, we’ll just come back in pre-season.

‘The last few weeks have been really good. From the mental health side of things, that’s been the main benefit.’