Horndean’s Connor Duffin on verge of Wessex League Premier golden boot after becoming only second striker in a decade to net 40 top flight goals in a season

Barring a sensational last-day goal glut by one of his Horndean team-mates, Connor Duffin will end the season as the Wessex League Premier Division’s Golden Boot winner.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 12:27 pm

Duffin goes into the final game of the campaign at Alresford this weekend having struck 40 goals in 36 top flight starts.

That puts him six goals ahead of his nearest rival, which just so happens to be his Five Heads Park colleague Zack Willett!

AFC Portchester’s Lee Wort is third in the list of Wessex Premier marksmen with 30.

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Hat-trick hero Connor Duffin in action during the 4-0 win against Bournemouth Poppies last weekend - taking his seasonal league tally to 40. Picture: Martyn White

Duffin reached the 40-goal barrier with a hat-trick in last weekend’s 4-0 home rout of Bournemouth Poppies.

It was his fourth hat-trick of the season, after trebles against Hythe & Dibden and Portland and a four-goal haul at Amesbury. And as a result, he became only the fourth Premier striker to net 40 times in a Wessex campaign since the start of 2005/06.

He was actually leading the Premier goals list in 2020/21, with 11 in as many Premier games, before the season was ended prematurely in mid-December due to rising Covid cases.

Now with a complete season to his name, Duffin will become the first Horndean player to win the Premier Golden Boot following a stunning campaign.

Horndean pair Connor Duffin, left, and Zack Willett are the two highest scorers in the Wessex League Premier Division this season. Picture: Martyn White

Prior to this season, Graham Lindsay held the Deans’ Wessex seasonal scoring record with 31 in 2007/08. In all competitions, Lindsey struck 35 times.

Both Duffin and Willett have beaten that total in 2021/22. Duffin has 41 league and cup goals to his name, while Willett - in his first season in the Wessex - has 37.

Willett has bagged three hat-tricks after stepping up two divisions from Paulsgrove - two against Cowes and one at AFC Stoneham.

Duffin will be the first player from a PO postcode to finish as the Premier’s top scorer outright since Lindsey netted 28 times for Fareham Town in 2009/10. Moneyfields’ Steve Hutchings was the joint winner in 2014/15, scoring 37 times - the same as Alresford’s Warren Bentley.

Duffin has this season also collected the second-highest amount of league goals in the division since Jamie White struck 52 times for Winchester City in 2011/12.

The only striker with more goals in the past decade was Dan Mason, who netted 44 goals for champions Sholing in 2018/19.

In 2005/06, Justin Bennett - still firing in the Wessex League goals for second tier Bemerton - netted 48 times in the Premier for Andover, as part of a 52-goal league and cup campaign.

The Premier seasonal record is held by Andy Forbes, who belted 55 top flight goals in 2003/04 for Winchester City. In all, Forbes scored 76 league and cup goals that term as City won the Wessex League, Wessex League Cup and FA Vase treble.

Extraordinarily, that wasn’t even Forbes’ most prolific season - in 1999/2000 he amassed a barely believable 88 league and cup goals for Andover in their Wessex League title winning campaign.

It’s sobering to think that Duffin and Willett have 78 league and cup goals between them for Horndean in 2021/22, yet Forbes scored 10 more than that in one season on his own!