Rutherford targets top 10 despite points penalty

Moneyfield striker Steve Hutchings
Moneyfield striker Steve Hutchings
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Moneyfields boss Miles Rutherford is targeting a top-10 finish – despite seeing his side docked six league points and being held to a 2-2 draw at Horndean last night.

The Dover Road side were yesterday finally punished by the Wessex League authorities for fielding an ineligible player earlier in this season’s premier division campaign.

Moneys failed to get international clearance for striker Steve Hutchings, who scored in the draw at Five Heads Park, when he returned from a spell in Australia in the summer.

The Copnor club, who were thrown out of the FA Vase last week after their match with Bitton was abandoned because of a mass brawl, have always insisted it was a genuine mistake.

They also claimed they would accept any punishment deemed worthy.

Moneyfields now know the cost of such an administrative error.

But manager Rutherford believes the penalty could have been a lot harsher and, remaining positive, believes a final league placing in the top 10 is not beyond his side.

‘We knew this was coming and it could have been worse,’ said Rutherford.

‘Altogether, we collected 12 points from the games Hutchings played in so they have taken half of them away.

‘We feel a little hard done by with all the things that have happened to us this season, but now have to get on with it.

‘It means we can still achieve a top-10 finish and, under the circumstances, that will be a good achievement.’

In a bid to make up the six-point deduction, Rutherford will have been pleased with the way his side battled back twice to claim a draw at the Deans last night.

Conditions were far from easy, with the rain making the playing surface slippery on top.

And in a competitive opening 15 minutes, Hutchings went close with a superb shot on the turn that went past the far post.

When Horndean responded, Nathan Paxton saw his shot from inside the area blocked.

Midway through the half, Moneyfields goalkeeper Dave Hook kept the scores level when he saved well with his legs from Matt Andrews.

Stuart Green worked a good position for the visitors but ballooned his shot over the bar.

Green then beat home keeper Stefan Clarke to a forward ball, only to see his looping header drop the wrong side of the bar.

On the stroke of half-time, unmarked home striker Lenny Burney fired straight at Hook with the goal gaping.

The second half began in dramatic fashion, with three goals in seven minutes.

Two minutes after the restart, Horndean broke the deadlock following a stunning strike from Liam Gilbert.

The midfielder picked the ball up 20 yards out and sent a low shot skidding past Hook.

Moneyfields hit back three minutes later with an equally-impressive finish from Hutchings.

The powerful striker picked up a loose ball from a corner, and from outside the area curled a delightful shot over Clarke.

Within another two minutes, Jack Warren had restored the home side’s lead with a powerful header from a corner.

Substitute Jake Raine, however, rescued a point for Moneyfields in the last minute when he volleyed in unmarked at the far post from a corner.