Moneyfields face 26-goal striker Benn in tough FA Vase trip to The Marigolds of Littlehampton

Tom Cain will return to the heart of Moneyfields’ defence at the weekend charged with keeping one of the most prolific strikers in south coast non-league football quiet.
Joe Benn has scored 26 goals for Littlehampton this season. Picture by Stephen GoodgerJoe Benn has scored 26 goals for Littlehampton this season. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Joe Benn has scored 26 goals for Littlehampton this season. Picture by Stephen Goodger

A fascinating FA Vase first round tie sends Moneys - containing a large amount of the US Portsmouth team that reached last season’s semi-finals - across the border to Sussex club Littlehampton Town.

The Marigolds have won 40 of their last 46 Southern Combination matches, stretching back to the start of 2019/20, and boast a striker who has belted 78 league and goals in that period.

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Littlehampton are two points clear of Pagham at top of Southern Combination Premier Division, having won 11, drawn two and lost just one of their 14 league games. They are top scorers in their division with 49 goals.

They were promoted in the summer after winning 29 and drawing three of their 32 Division 1 games across the two pandemic-scarred seasons.

Joe Benn is the major threat to Moneys’ hopes of progression, having scored 26 goals in just 18 league and cup outings this season.

Prior to that, he scored 52 goals at step 6 level for Littlehampton (2020/21) and Mile Oak (2019/20).

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Cain, though, has been in outstanding form for Moneys this season and was man of the match in their 2-0 Vase win against Portchester last month.

He missed Tuesday’s 6-0 Wessex Premier stroll at cellar dwellers Hythe & Dibden - ex-Pompey centre half Ellis Martin handed his first XI debut in a game where James Franklyn bagged a hat-trick - but is back for the Vase trip.

‘Caino has been hitting a rich vein of form,’ said boss Glenn Turnbull. ‘It will be interesting to see how he gets on against him (Benn).’

Keeper Tom Price and 10-goal top scorer Steve Hutchings both missed the victory at Hythe - teenager Sam Richards and Mig Dark replacing them - but both also return at Littlehampton.

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The Marigolds have only lost one league game since August 2019 - 2-1 at Peacehaven & Telscombe this term. And that was via an 85th minute penalty after they had been reduced to 10 men.

In an FA Cup against higher tier Whitehawk, Littlehampton, who have scored in all 19 of their competitive games in 2021/22, only lost 5-4.

Turnbull’s USP played a friendly at Littlehampton in August 2020 and he recalled: ‘They were a good footballing side, they play out from the back - we were chasing their coat tails to start with.

‘Ideally in the Vase you want a home tie, but if you’re away you don’t want to go too far but you’d prefer to play someone you don’t normally play.

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‘If they (Littlehampton) play as I expect them to, it should be a good game. People take the mickey that I always say we’re underdogs, but their record speaks for itself.’

USP’s standout result in last season’s epic Vase run was a 3-1 fifth round victory at Tavistock. ‘I’d say that was our best performance (in the Vase) and we’ll probably need to be at that level to get a result at Littlehampton,’ Turnbull declared.