Denmead taken by surprise with goal-laden start to life in the Hampshire Premier League top flight

Denmead boss Paul Goddard confesses his team’s goal-laden start to life in the top flight of the Hampshire Premier League has taken him by surprise.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:41 am
Ryan Chandler is all smiles after scoring for Denmead in their 6-1 HPL victory over Winchester Castle. Picture: Martyn White.

After two pandemic-shortened seasons in Division, Denmead were promoted into the Senior Division in the summer alongside Moneyfields Reserves.

Remarkably, the two teams enter this weekend’s round of games occupying the top two places.

Moneys have won all eight games and are already being considered by some managers as uncatchable.

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Denmead, for their part, have won six of their eight matches - one of which, against Overton, was a walkover after their opponents couldn’t raise a side.

Goddard’s men have belted five goals or more in four of the seven games played - including a 7-0 hammering of Hayling on their Senior debut at Front Lawn.

They have also whacked Colden Common and Winchester Castle for six and put five past Chamberlayne en route to scoring 29 times in just matches.

The goal rush could continue this weekend as Denmead face a Lyndhurst side who have lost all eight of their games so far, shipping 34 goals – the worst defensive record in the division.

‘It’s been a better start than we had anticipated,’ said Goddard, whose squad still have most of the players that were turning out for Denmead in the Meon Valley Sunday League in 2018/19.

‘We have played some really good stuff so far, it’s been good to watch.

‘It helps to get off to a good start, but it’s way too early to count chickens. Yet if you’d offered me 19 out of the first 24 points I’d have snapped your hand off.

‘For our first season, we were targeting a top half finish.’

Goddard freshened up his squad with a clutch of close-season signings proven at Senior Division level.

Keeper Chris Clark and left-back Josh Elmes came over from Hayling, while Owen Milne had been a regular scorer for Clanfield.

Ryan Chandler, who was playing in the Mid-Solent for FC Strawberry last season but his HPL experience with Liss, is another new face.

‘They’re all loving their football,’ said Goddard. ‘They’ve bought into what we’re trying to achieve and our style of play.’

Denmead have taken on some big guns in the last two seasons in cup ties.

They stunned three tiers higher AFC Portchester in a Portsmouth Senior Cup tie in 2019//20, and went down 4-0 to a strong Moneyfields XI in the quarter-final.

Denmead also reached the HPL Cup semi-final at the first attempt, only losing 1-0 to top flight heavyweights Bush Hill, and last season went down by the same scoreline to Fleetlands.

Next month, Denmead will face Wessex Premier outfit Fareham Town at their Front Lawn base in the Portsmouth Senior Cup.

Before then, they travel to Moneyfields Reserves next Wednesday in the HPL Cup.

It is unquestionably the hardest tie they could have had, but Goddard insisted: ‘We’re relishing it.’

Denmead only lost five Division 1 games in their 29 fixtures over two seasons, including two against Moneys - 4-0 in 2019/20 and 3-1 last season.