Meon Milton on brink of Mid-Solent League title after draw against FC Strawberry

Meon Milton need just one point from their last three games to be crowned Mid-Solent League champions for 2020/21.

By Simon Carter
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 11:01 am
Meon Milton go close to a winner against FC Strawberry (maroon) at Cowplain School. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Meon Milton go close to a winner against FC Strawberry (maroon) at Cowplain School. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Bickram Singh’s side moved a step close to the title by twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 with second-placed FC Strawberry.

With third-placed Mob Albion also drawing 2-2, with Wymering, Milton will clinch the silverware if they avoid defeat at home to Burrfields this weekend.

If they were to lose, they would then need only a point from a double header against Portchester Rovers - providing Mob win both of their remaining games.

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Meon Milton goalscorer Jagjit Singh on the ball against FC Strawberry. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Ryan Lambert and top scorer Connor Mansfield twice put Strawberry ahead in a game that was switched from Eastney Barracks to Cowplain School’s 3G pitch due to the poor weather forecast.

Adam Beckett grabbed Meon’s first leveller and Jagjit Singh pounced for the second after Strawberry keeper Kev Dixey had pulled off a great save from a free-kick.

The point maintained Meon’s unbeaten record, the only one left standing among the 13 clubs in the MSL structure.

Ex-Gosport Borough and Moneyfields regular Singh, in his first season as Meon boss, was happy enough with the draw.

Conor Mansfield, right, has put FC Strawberry 2-1 up against Meon Milton. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘We needed to raise our game, but we didn’t raise it as much as I thought we would,’ he remarked.

‘But we chose not to give in or give up, we persevered and we got the equaliser.

‘It could have gone either way after that.

‘Lewis (Fisher, Meon goalkeeper) made some great saves.’

Singh added: ‘I would love to finish the season unbeaten in my first season in management - that would be a great stat. I think that’s every manager’s aim.’

It hasn’t been such a memorable campaign for Strawberry in what is their third season in the Mid-Solent.

In their first year they won the Father Purcell Cup and finished third in the league, and in 2019/20 they were second to Harvest Home when the season was declared null and void - having won all their games apart from matches against Harvest.

In addition, they also reached the Hampshire Vase final - losing 4-1 to Harvest at Front Lawn in a delayed final last September.

This season, they have won five, drawn two and lost five of their matches against teams in the top seven.

Though they are currently second, Strawberry have finished their season. They could end up fifth, though that would need an unlikely sequence of results.

Mob need just one point from two games to claim an expected runners-up spot behind Meon.

‘It’s been a bit rubbish,’ said Joe Stevens, one of a handful of players involved in managing Strawberry.

‘The results haven’t been what we’ve wanted, they’ve been poor.’

Stevens, though, has enjoyed the post-lockdown games after league officials split the division into two in order to get the pandemic-scarred campaign completed on a home and away basis.

‘Before they split the league some of the games were too on,’ he said.

‘It’s been much better the last few weeks - the games are a lot more competitive.

‘I think the teams in both divisions have been much happier.

‘Last season we were scoring 17 and 14 in games - it’s a bit much, really, so it’s nice to have more competitive games.’

Most of the Strawberry team have known each other since their schooldays in the Southsea area, and Stevens admits: ‘We don’t go signing players willy-nilly, most of the team have been here for the whole three seasons.

‘If we do bring in new players they’re generally friends or friends of friends.’

Harvest went up to the Hampshire Premier League last year and Meon are hopeful of doing the same this summer.

Strawberry are also keen to one day make the leap into county football, but will need to find a new venue.

So far, they have been playing home games at Cowplain School.

‘We’d like to go up for sure, but the facilities are holding us back,’ said Stevens.

‘Hopefully we might be getting something sorted for next year.’

Stevens was glad to bring the curtain down on 2020/21 with an ‘enjoyable’ draw against a Meon side who had beaten them 3-1 in December.

‘It was a proper game - the sort of game you want to play in,’ he remarked.

‘Meon have definitely played better this season, and 2-2 was a fair result on the day. It was an enjoyable game against a nice bunch of lads - just what you want really.’