Hat-trick hero Danny Lane can’t hide his delight as Paulsgrove take honours in ‘Portsmouth v Southampton’ derby clash with Bush Hill

As goalscoring celebrations go, they were some of the more remarkable you will see on any non-league or grassroots pitch in this or any other season.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 2:22 pm
Danny Lane celebrates after completing his hat-trick for Paulsgrove against Bush Hill. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Three times Paulsgrove ‘pest’ Danny Lane netted in the first half of his side’s 5-2 Hampshire Premier League victory over fellow heavyweights Bush Hill.

And three times the striker – obviously no shrinking violet - instantly ran over to the visiting dugout to show Bush boss Eugene McManus just how happy he was to inflict further misery on his side.

On one occasion he slid on his knees just a few feet away from McManus; on another, he leapt in the air in front of the Bush dugout before accepting the congratulations of his team-mates.

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Danny Lane celebrates in front of Bush Hill manager Eugene McManus. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Yep, safe to say this was another ‘interesting’ Portsmouth v Southampton derby clash!

There is history between Lane and McManus, stretching back a few years.

‘This has been going on for a long time,’ said Grove boss Wayne Grant.

‘I think a comment was made to Danny a few years ago and it wound him up.

Bottoms up! Paulsgrove's Aaron Fennemore attempts to get on the end of a free-kick against Bush Hill. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘He is a pest for defenders anyway and he always has that bit between his teeth when he plays against Bush Hill.

‘I don’t think he and their manager like each other that much!’

Lane certainly enjoys playing in a fixture which is always a bit spicy - there were three red cards in the corresponding game last season and there could easily have been the same (or more) shown here.

In 2017/18, when Grove won their only HPL title, Lane netted in two victories against Bush - including a late winner in Southampton.

Paulsgrove striker Zak Willett takes the ball past the Bush Hill keeper. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

In 2018/19, when Bush won the title, Lane helped Grove to a 4-1 victory at Marsden Road.

The weekend victory, therefore, was his fourth in a row against Bush. And McManus’ side don’t lose often - indeed, this was only their 12th league defeat in 212 games.

It was the first time Bush had shipped five goals in an HPL game since a 5-0 hammering at another Portsmouth area club, Baffins Milton Rovers, in February 2015 - a day when Lenny Burney fired a hat-trick.

And, as Grant stated, the result ‘laid down a marker’ which suggested Grove have to be considered serious Senior Division title challengers.

Shane Cornish (middle, right) battles for possession. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Indeed, if they can beat fellow unbeaten side Infinity and Fleetlands in their next two home games - on December 19 and 28 respectively - they would surely be favourites to claim only their second HPL crown.

Grant was part of the Grove squad that won the league and Hampshire Intermediate Cup double in 2017/18.

Back then, James Hird (29 goals), Lane (25, in only 23 games), Alex Miroy (24) and Tommy Woodward (17) were the main attacking threats.

But Grant feels his current squad is the best in the club’s history.

‘The chairman, Wayne Johnson, thinks it’s the best squad we’ve had,’ said Grant.

‘I think it’s a stronger squad than when we won the double, it’s a more complete side.

‘There are also much better teams in the league now.’

Lane - who played for Midhurst & Easbourne in the Southern Combination in 2019/20 - is one of several reasons Grove look a far, far better side than they did last season.

Three others are Zak Willett, Shane Cornish and Tom Doughty.

Willett has added rapid pace to the Grove attack, and has formed a lethal partnership with Lane that has seen both players net 15 HPL goals so far.

‘Zak and Danny are formidable,’ said Grant. ‘If we can stay compact, we will score against anybody.

‘Bush Hill played a high line and you don’t want to do that against Zak and Danny.’

In midfield, former Baffins Milton regular Shane Cornish is a quality performer at county league level, and it was his vision and passes that provided Lane with his second two goals against Bush.

‘He makes us tick,’ Grant remarked. ‘He links the defence and attack.’

Doughty - another with Wessex League experience, in his case Horndean - has added extra nous and a physical presence to the Grove midfield.

‘We have a great spirit,’ Grant explained.

‘At the weekend I asked the players to be at the ground for 12.45 - Tom Doughty was there at 20 past 11 because he was so up for the game. He said he was raring to go and it was still three hours before kick off.

‘The messages started on the players’ group chat at 10 past six in the morning!’

Though victory over Bush obviously meant a lot – certainly to Lane! - Grant said the players will be even more up for it on Monday, December 28.

‘Fleetlands is the one the boys really want to win,’ he stated.

‘Bush, Infinity and Fleetlands are our three biggest games of the season and we’ve got them all at home in a row.

‘I would be happy with seven points out of the nine.’