‘It’ll be incredibly tough next season’ – Baffins boss Wilkinson happy to welcome fellow Portsea Island clubs Moneyfields and US Portsmouth into Wessex top flight

Baffins Milton Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson believes there will be a whole host of benefits for clubs following the Wessex League Premier Division revamp.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:51 am
Ryan Pennery shoots wide for Baffins Milton Rovers during their 3-0 home Wessex 1 loss to US Portsmouth in December 2016 - the second (and last) time the two clubs have met in a league fixture. Picture: Malcolm Wells

He insists reduced travel could make recruitment easier for teams while a more regionalised league structure should help see increased attendances on the whole.

Baffins have now been joined in the Wessex Premier by fellow Portsea Islanders Moneyfields and US Portsmouth - along with Alton and Hythe & Dibden - as part of the FA's non-league restructure.

Wilkinson stressed at step 5 and below travel should be cut to a minimum for clubs - and he is happy with how the Wessex Premier will look in the 2021-22 season.

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'You look at the sides who have come in, US Pompey, Hythe & Dibden, Alton and Moneyfields, yeah we welcome it because it’s less travelling,’ he explained

‘It’s good to see Moneyfields in there. At this level of football, it should be regionalised and localised anyway.

‘It’s good because hopefully you can attract players and sell them not having to travel so far, bigger local derbies, fill people’s bars up, especially after what has just happened.

‘I’ve got a lot of time for Moneyfields and (chairman) Pete Seiden, they’ve got a big development going on over there, the league saw sense and has given them an easy year or two in terms of travel and expenditure before they build their club up.

'It’s more local, bigger crowds - I’m happy with it to be honest.'

Wilkinson acknowledged the quality of teams coming into the division - added to those already there - will make things incredibly tough next season.

In fact, he anticipates next term to be one of the toughest Wessex Premier campaigns for years.

Wilkinson said: 'You’ve got some strong sides in there; Horndean are always there or thereabouts, and Moneyfields will be the USP lot - about nine or 10 of them will go across. Obviously, Glenn (Turnbull) has gone in there, it’s going to be a strong league.

‘It’s going to be the hardest it’s been for a while. Teams like Hamworthy, they’ll be favourites, they’re the best side in the division.

'Portchester will be strong, Moneyfields will be strong.'

Baffins have never played Moneyfields in a Wessex fixture, and only faced US Portsmouth in two Wessex Division 1 games in 2016/17.

Callum Dart netted twice when Baffins won 4-2 at the Victory Stadium, with Michael Dark, Perry Easton and Harry Jackson on target in a shock 3-0 win for US at eventually promoted Baffins in the return fixture.