Horndean boss Birmingham hails ‘fantastic’ display against Wessex League table-toppers
Horndean boss Michael Birmingham hailed a ‘fantastic’ performance as Wessex League leaders Alresford were soundly beaten at Five Head Parks.
Last season’s top flight runners-up completed the league double over the Magpies with an impressive 4-1 victory.
Ex-Pompey midfielder Jack Maloney struck twice with Alfie Lis and sub Connor Duffin also netting as Deans sent a major statement of intent to their Premier Division rivals.
Before the game, Birmingham had insisted his team needed to bring ‘their A game’ to the show.
They did just that.
‘We were very, very good today,’ enthused Birmingham. ‘Some of our football was fantastic. They are top of the table and they couldn’t get near us at times.
‘After the first 10 minutes of the second half, when we knew they’d come at us, we controlled the rest of the game. We did extremely well.’
Kicking down the prodigious slope, Horndean were ahead in the first minute.
Left back Fuzz Kanjanda played in Greg Peel, who beat his marker Liam Hibberd and crossed into the six-yard box. Keeper Jordi Valero twice beat out efforts from Howes and Scott before Maloney bundled the ball in at the third attempt.
Alresford were level on eight minutes when Mike Gosney whipped in a free-kick - awarded for a foul which Birmingham claimed was acting on an ‘oscar nominee’ level - and Sam Doswell thumped a header past Lloyd Thomas.
Peel - a summer signing from Shaftesbury - was again the architect when Deans regained the lead on 22 minutes, another left-wing cross presenting Alfie Lis with the chance to score the second fine header of the contest.
Kanjanda was instrumental in the goal which effectively killed off Alresford’s challenge just before the hour mark, his good work on the left ending with a sideways pass to Maloney who took one stride and belted a low 25-yarder which Valero could only help into the net.
The game was held up for almost 10 minutes when Deans centre half Jake Lee was elbowed by sub Duarte Martins, eventually being substituted with blood streaming from his nose.
Referee Andrew Dunn did not think the incident was malicious, but Birmingham and his players were vocal in expressing a totally different view.
Lis should have extended the lead when a dismal clearance from Valero left him 25 yards out and with an empty goal begging, but his chipped effort sailed wide.
But Duffin - on as a late sub for Bobby Scott - made it 4-1 in injury time, evading two challenges inside the penalty area before sliding a shot inside the post.
He had also scored when Horndean won 2-0 at Alresford on September 28, and this latest success has certainly made the title race an intriguing affair.
Though Alresford still lead by five points, a host of chasing clubs will very much fancy their chances.
Horndean should be amongst that group. Though currently 11 points adrift, they do have two games in hand - and more performances like this one will certainly mark them out as top three contenders once again.