Meon Milton complete Mid-Solent League title and cup double with victory over Mob Albion
Top scorer Bayley Whitcombe struck twice as Meon Milton completed a Mid-Solent League title and cup double.
After beating Mob Albion into runners-up spot to win the league title, Bic Singh’s men lifted the Billy Hill Cup after a 3-1 final success against Mob at Front Lawn.
It was the third time this season that Meon had beaten Mob, and in all of the matches they have come from behind to triumph.
This time they found themselves deservedly trailing at the interval, and Mob could easily have been further ahead as they hit the woodwork twice.
But it was a different story once Whitcombe had equalised 10 minutes into the second half.
Whitcombe added a second from the penalty spot and, after Mob had been reduced to 10 men following a red card, Aran Singh lashed in a third from close range.
Back in April, the two teams had taken part in one of the best games to be seen anywhere in Hampshire grassroots football in 2020/21.
On that occasion, Mob led 2-0 after just six minutes in a MSL game at Westleigh Park, only for Meon to hit back and lead 5-2 at half-time before winning 6-4.
The Billy Hill Cup final wasn’t as entertaining as that fixture, but the end result - a Meon victory in their last game as a MSL team before stepping up into the Hampshire Premier League - was the same.
Mob went close to a seventh minute lead when top scorer Harry Potter hit the woodwork. Potter had been fouled by Sam Fowler on the right-hand side and, from Mike Prew’s free-kick, Potter’s close-range effort struck the crossbar.
Albion took a 30th minute lead when Potter was again fouled, this time on the left-hand touchline by Ryan Brown, who became the first name in ref Sean Ridley’s book. Cam Palin floated in the subsequent free-kick and Andy Brown was unmarked to head in.
Potter was instantly given a rest and replacement Mike Newman was inches away from doubling the lead minutes after coming on. He jumped highest to nod a cross over onrushing keeper Lewis Fisher, only for the ball to rebound off a post and the loose ball cleared off the line.
Meon had yet to string together a decent attack, with Jagjit Singh’s shot blocked by defenders and Whitcombe’s ambitious 40-yard effort comfortably held by Mob keeper James Griffiths.
Gurney became the first Mob player booked for a foul as the half drew to a close.
Bic Singh changed formation at half-time, reverting to his usual 3-5-2 formation instead of four at the back.
There was an early blow, though, when half-time sub Matteo Berogna was forced off with a shoulder injury after just four minutes.
Whitcombe - who had plundered a treble in April’s league win against Mob, one of three post-lockdown hat-tricks to his name - equalised when he received a lofted pass over the defence and coolly lobbed over Griffiths.
From that point on, the complexion of the game changed. Whitcombe headed over and then fired wastefully wide as Meon piled on the pressure.
They took the lead on 65 minutes when Ridley awarded a penalty for Brown’s challenge on Whitcombe right on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Mob were furious, claiming the challenge was outside the box, Brown was booked, and Whitcombe - who had converted a late penalty to give Meon a 4-3 semi-final win against Stubbington - sent Griffiths the wrong way.
Potter was immediately thrown back into the action, but he was never to pose the same dangers he had in the first half or when scoring a consolation hat-trick in the 6-4 loss to Meon.
Palin was close to an equaliser, heading a Scott Johnston free-kick just wide, before Brown was dismissed on 72 minutes for a second bookable offence. Like his first yellow, it seemed a harsh decision
Ten minutes from time Whitcombe flicked on a throw in and Aran Singh fired Meon further ahead.
Both managers were then booked within a minute of each other - Singh for a foul and Mob boss Alex Bone for comments made to a linesman.
Fisher produced a fine stop from Palin, after a corner had fallen to him, while at the other end Griffiths spread himself to stop Dale Holmes making it 4-1.
For Meon, then, a double in Singh’s first season as manager; for Mob, a feeling of cup final injustice - they posted on social media they felt ‘hugely hard done by’ - and a determination to return for a second MSL campaign in 2021/22 and win the league.
With Meon out of the way and FC Strawberry disbanding, it will take a very good side to stop them winning silverware next season.
Meon (squad): Fisher, A Edwards, Fowler, Brown, Futcher, D Edwards, Cooper, J Singh, Whitcombe, Holmes, A Singh, Jeans, Cook, Berogna, B Singh, Foy.
Mob (squad): Griffiths, Winslade, Gurney, Brown, Peters, Johnston, Prew, Verran, Palin, Potter, Ferguson, Newman, Naylor, McDonald, McIntosh.