Fleetlands aim to ‘fight fire with fire’ by signing Horndean striker Mark Smith to boost Hampshire Premier League title challenge

Mark Smith made a goalscoring debut and Kelvin Robinson belted his second hat-trick of the season as Fleetlands stretched their winning run to six matches.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 9:32 am
New Fleetlands loan signing Mark Smith (red) in action for Horndean. Picture: Keith Woodland

Smith has been signed on loan from Horndean, where he has been limited to only two sub appearances since the start of 2020/21.

Prior to that, he was a Wessex League Premier regular under Dave Carter and Michael Birmingham.

His most prolific campaign for the Deans came in 2016/17, when he struck 24 goals in 40 league and cup starts plus eight off the bench.

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Smith was handed his Fleetlands debut on the right side of a front three at home to Clanfield with Robinson playing as the central striker and Tommy Woodward on the left.

Robinson struck four times, taking his seasonal tally to 14 in only nine starts, as the Coptermen romped to a 6-2 victory at Lederle Lane.

It was their fifth Hampshire Premier League Senior Division win in a row - scoring 22 times in the process - while they have also beaten Liss 4-1 in the League Cup.

‘Mark’s strong, he’s quick, he’s played nine years in the Wessex Prem - he’s only 29. We’re not signing a has-been,’ said Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey.

‘We know he shouldn’t be playing at this level, but you can say that about a few of our players.

‘Mark knows one of our players, Luke Heard, from his time at Horndean and that helped us to get him in.’

Glyn Cooper, recently switched to the No 10 role, completed the half-dozen haul against youthful Clanfield with what Bessey described as an ‘outstanding’ finish.

‘This is the best run I’ve had as Fleetlands boss,’ he remarked. ‘We’ve gone seven unbeaten now.

‘I was also without Stu Maunder, one of my best midfielders, and Owen Sims who is on loan from Woking U23s. And strikers Jamie Wrapson and Matty Andrews were also unavailable.

‘Clanfield had a lot of young players, while we had players with a lot of experience – Tommy Woodward, Phil Archbold, Mark Smith.

‘Tommy could have had a hat-trick of headers.’

Fleetlands face consecutive HPL Senior games against lowly pair Overton and Liss before a midweek trip to leaders Moneyfields on October 20.

‘You don’t know what players Moneyfields will be able to field,’ said Bessey, ‘but in signing Mark Smith we’re going to fight fire with fire.’