‘Mass exodus has left club in a healthier place’ – Moneyfields reserve boss Lee Mould after Hampshire Premier League title dream ended with defeat at Locks Heath

Boss Lee Mould reflected on an ‘exceptional’ season for Moneyfields Reserves and insisted a pre-Christmas exodus has left the club in a ‘healthier place.’

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 9:42 am

Having three points deducted for fielding ineligible players, though, was an FA punishment which still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Moneys were favourites to win the Hampshire Premier League title until a late-season collapse saw them lose three of their last five games.

Last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Locks Heath followed defeats at Fleetlands (3-0) and Stockbridge (4-1) and extinguished their last remaining hope.

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Moneyfields' Kieran Dowell, left, v Locks Heath. Picture: Tom Phillips

But in terms of the title being lost, you have to really go back to the beginning of November when Moneys beat Fleetlands 4-0 at Dover Road.

The hosts fielded a strong-looking XI with first team boss Glenn Turnbull keen to give minutes to a number of his Wessex League squad.

That resulted in an exodus of reserve regulars - with most joining Clanfield, though others decamped to Fareham Town and Fleetlands.

To replace them, Mould promoted a string of the club’s under-18s while also bringing in the experienced George Way.

Moneyfields' Jordan Pile, left, v Locks Heath. Picture: Tom Phillips

‘We may well have won the league if there hadn’t been the mass exodus,’ said Mould. ‘But the club is now in a healthier place with the kids coming through.

‘There are some cracking kids, only 16/17 - first year youth. And there’s a few more in the pipeline.

‘Robbie Davies, he’s a boy who could go far. Rafferty Boyd-Kerr has been playing for the first team, Alex Pullin has done well, Dehran Hodge has been with the first team.

‘A reserve team is ultimately there to provide a pathway from the youth team into the first team, integrating players in men’s football.’

Moneyfields (yellow) v Locks Heath. Picture: Tom Phillips

There was a further ‘sting’ in the tail to the win against Fleetlands. Almost four months later, as Moneys prepared for their final five league games, news came through they had been docked the three points they won on November 6.

Their crime? Fielding too many players who had appeared for the first team in an FA Vase tie at Littlehampton less than a fortnight earlier. The rule only applied to Vase ties, not Wessex League games.

Once news arrived of the deduction, Moneys weren’t the same again - losing three league games and also the HPL Cup semi-final to Locks Heath.

‘It knocked morale, it put us on the back foot,’ Mould recalled. ‘A little spark went out when we had the points deducted.

‘It stung then and it still stings. Knowing potentially it has cost us the league makes it sting even more.

‘It’s beyond me that the rule exists in the first place.

‘We could have fielded the whole first team (in the reserves) in the last few weeks - Steve Hutchings could have played - and that rule wouldn’t have affected us.

‘Losing the three points hurt, it really does.’

Despite that sour taste in the mouth, Mould added: ‘It’s been an exceptional season, it really has. I felt a bit bitter on Saturday night because it had been in our own hands and we didn’t deliver.

‘It hasn’t been the young lads who have made mistakes, it’s been the more experienced guys making them in the past three or four weeks. That’s what baffles me - they’re better than that.

‘Colden Common are the only team who have out-footballed us. The games we’ve lost recently have been to teams that have been physically stronger, worked harder, and wanted it more.’

Mould said he felt ‘quite comfortable’ going in 0-0 against Locks at the weekend, with Moneys having had the better chances in the opening half.

But Locks took control early on in the second period and ran out deserved winners.

Skipper Liam Kyle gave away a ‘needless’ penalty which Jordan Whiteley converted and Chay Dugan added a second on 75 minutes.

Young sub Dave Evans netted a late consolation but Locks were worthy of their third win over Moneys this season.

‘We shot ourselves in the foot again,’ Mould stated. ‘A few of our players went missing in the second half, we didn’t really threaten at all until we brought Dave Evans on.

‘You could see we didn’t have much confidence after we went behind. We needed that breakthrough, we needed the first goal in the first half.’