‘Harry was excellent considering the stick he got’ – Baffins assistant boss Thompson delighted at Sargeant’s goalscoring return to US Portsmouth

Danny Thompson hailed a ‘professional’ performance as Baffins Milton Rovers leapt back into second place in the Wessex League Premier Division.

By Simon Carter
Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:42 pm
Baffins defender Lee Molyneaux, left, in action against US Portsmouth.
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Baffins defender Lee Molyneaux, left, in action against US Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Goals from Harry Sargeant, Tommy Scutt and Oscar Johnston gave Rovers a 3-0 derby win at US Portsmouth last night.

It was Baffins’ fifth clean sheet in seven league games and moved them to within five points of surprise table-toppers Brockenhurst with three matches in hand.

They remain one of only two teams - Hamworthy are the other - still protecting an unbeaten Premier record.

Action from Baffins' 3-0 win at US Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘No disrespect to them (US), but we dominated from start to finish,’ said assistant boss Thompson, in charge at the Victory Stadium as manager Shaun Wilkinson was in Dubai.

‘I can’t remember Konrad (Szymaniak, keeper) being really tested.

‘On another night it could have been five or six.’

The night was a personal success for Sargeant, an integral member of the USP team that won promotion from Wessex 1 and reached last season’s FA Vase semi-finals.

Baffins' Oscar Johnston, left, in action at US Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A few of his former USP colleagues, now at Moneyfields, were in the stand dishing out some loud – but good-natured - ribbing.

‘I’d say 90 per cent of the people who were there wanted Baffins to get beat,’ said Thompson.

‘Harry was excellent considering the stick he got - he was solid, he broke up play.

‘We said to the players beforehand, you can’t just turn up on a Saturday and Tuesday and expect to win. You have to earn the right to play and then hopefully our quality will come through.’

USP boss Tom Grice said: ‘For 35 minutes we were in the game, we played some good football.

‘But the break in play for (following a foul on Callum Dart) slowed our momentum and we never really got it back.

‘If I’m being honest, we didn't create much. There wasn’t much up top, from the wings or from midfield – it was disappointing.

‘It was a bit of an eye-opener in where we need to get to. I don't want to sound like a stuck record but fitness is an issue – in the second half some of the team looked dead on their feet.

‘You can’t play for 35 minutes and expect to win games like that. (Tommy) Scutt and (James) Cowen more or less controlled the show, they were on the ball more than we were.

‘I thought our pace could cause them problems in the final third, but we didn’t do it at all.

‘They are a strong team, they had players out and were still able to get a result.’

Baffins handed a first Rovers start to winger George Britton, who has been signed on a dual registration from Southern Leaguers AFC Totton.

Formerly of Aldershot, Bognor and Worthing, Britton gave US left-back John Cass a tough opening 45 minutes ‘ ‘torrid’, according to Thompson - and it was from his right-wing cross that Sargeant headed the opener.

Britton, who is with Baffins for at least a month, only met his new colleagues at 2pm last Saturday at Alresford. Named on the bench at Arlebury Park, he was sent on after 20 minutes when Billy Connor picked up an injury.

‘We are down to the bare bones,’ revealed Thompson, who gave Charlie Wakefield - who has been playing for Locks Heath this season - a place on the bench to make up the numbers.

Jason Parish, Alex Przespolewski, Connor, Charlie Williamson and Josh Warren were among Baffins’ absentees last night.

Baffins are now sweating on Callum Dart, who required lengthy treatment following a bad foul by Owen Scammell last night that forced him off in the first half.

‘Callum’s got a big mark just below his kneecap,’ said Thompson. ‘I was surprised the referee didn’t show a red card.’

Parish suffered a hamstring injury during last Wednesday’s Hampshire Senior Cup loss against Hartley Wintney, and could be sidelined for another five weeks.

Przespolewski has a ‘50-50’ chance of being in contention for next Wednesday’s home league game against Cowes Sports.

Before then, Baffins are looking to bring in two more new signings – possibly ahead of this weekend's home game with rock bottom Hythe & Dibden.

‘We said this was a big week,’ remarked Thompson. ‘We knew if we could get seven points from Alresford, US Portsmouth and Hythe that would be a decent return.’