‘It’s there to be won now! – Locks Heath boss Fuge targeting Hampshire Premier League title after ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ win against Clanfield

Locks Heath boss Dave Fuge watched his side grab a 97th minute winner in a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ at Clanfield and admitted: The title’s there to be won now!

Steve Hawley lobs Clanfield keeper Ash Wright - the ball rebounding off a post and in off Wright for Locks Heath's second goal. Picture: Martyn White
Steve Hawley lobs Clanfield keeper Ash Wright - the ball rebounding off a post and in off Wright for Locks Heath's second goal. Picture: Martyn White

Former AFC Portchester regular Simon Stone hammered a late, late, late winner at Westleigh Park as Locks won 4-3 to move to within six points of Hampshire Premier League leaders Moneyfields and three of second-placed Denmead.

Locks had earlier stormed into a 3-0 lead inside 30 minutes, before new-look Clanfield - playing their first home game since November 20 - hit back to level.

Fuge’s side suffered three losses in their opening seven league games last August, but victory over Clanfield was their 11th in a 13-game run which has reignited talk of a title challenge.

Steve Hawley celebrates Locks Heath's second goal. Picture: Martyn White

‘A couple of wins and we’re right up there,’ said Fuge. ‘A month ago I’d have said we were too far away, but now it’s only a couple of points.

‘It’s there to be won now!’

Fuge guided Locks to their sole HPL title in 2011/12, a 31-game unbeaten run - after losing the first match of the season - taking them 13 points clear of runners-up AFC Stoneham.

Right-back Tristan Dawson, an own goal and a second in three starts for former Warsash striker Adam Clark put Locks in complete control against Clanfield.

Clanfield (blue/black) v Locks Heath. Picture: Martyn White

For the own goal, Locks’ Steve Hawley lobbed a shot over keeper Ash Wright with the ball then hitting a post and deflecting in off Wright as he raced back to attempt to clear.

But the hosts reduced the deficit to 3-2 at the interval through Jake Knight and Olly Long, the latter scoring for the fourth game running since joining the exodus from Moneyfields.

Another ex-Moneys man, striker Dan Penfold, levelled in the second half and Clanfield were close to taking the lead when another Penfold effort hit a post.

Locks were annoyed to see a late goal - Brad Stone converting a Jake Bull pull back - was ruled out for offside

Dan Penfold celebrates scoring Clanfield's equaliser against Locks Heath. Picture: Martyn White

The hosts were reduced to 10 men late on when centre half Brandon Newman was sin binned for dissent after the game hadn’t been stopped due to his head injury.

And in the seventh minute of time added on, Stone struck a sweet 20-yarder past Wright and into the bottom corner.

‘I would have been pretty deflated if we’d drawn,’ said Fuge. ‘For the first 30 minutes we were all over them, it could have been seven or eight.

‘I think we then got a bit complacent. We were useless in the first half hour of the second half, we didn’t get out of the changing room.’

Players from Clanfield (blue/black) and Locks Heath challenge at a set piece. Picture: Martyn White

Clanfield boss Lee Blakely said: ‘Apart from the first half hour, we played really well. We did well to get back to 3-3 against one of the best footballing teams in our league.

‘We always seem to start slow, but then show our quality in the second half. But against a team with the quality of Locks Heath, you can’t afford to do that.’

Clanfield have a tough month with their next three league games against Paulsgrove, Colden Common and an eagerly-awaited ‘friends reunited’ home match against Moneyfields.

Ex-Moneys pair Brandon Elliott and Micky Viggor are now available again after completing three-match bans for red cards on their Clanfield debut.

As for Locks, it was their second four-goal display of 2022, after welcoming in the New Year with a 4-2 win against Warsash in the Southampton Senior Cup.

Trophy-chasing Locks now have THREE more cup ties before they return to league action.

Olly Long, right, has just scored for Clanfield. Picture: Martyn White

First, they travel to Eversley & California on Tuesday in the quarter finals of the Russell Cotes Cup. Then comes a home HPL Cup quarter-final with QK Southampton, who have won all their Division 1 South East matches this season. Finally, Locks travel the short distance to Fareham Town on Tuesday January 18 in the Portsmouth Senior Cup last eight.

Fuge spent a season as reserve boss at Cams Alders and is looking forward to his return. ‘They (Fareham) are favourites by a mile but we’ll go and give it our best shot. They score a lot of goals, but they also leak a lot. It should be a good occasion.’