Paulsgrove and Fleetlands bidding to put down title statement as Hampshire Premier League Senior Division rivals prepare to do battle

Rivals Paulsgrove and Fleetlands do battle in an early season crunch Hampshire Premier League Senior Division meeting tonight (6.45pm).

By Lewis Mason
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 8:19 am
Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 170721-24)
Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 170721-24)

The two clubs are expecting to be pushing for the title come the end of the campaign - and either team can make a big statement of their intent with victory.

Paulsgrove recorded a first win of the season on Saturday, beating Locks Heath 1-0, to get up and running after an opening-day defeat to Senior Division new boys Moneyfields Reserves.

Fleetlands, meanwhile, head to Grove on the back of a maiden league victory this term, a 2-0 win over Colden Common thanks to a Kelvin Robinson brave.

And Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey believes a win at Paulsgrove would give his side the confidence boost to embark on a lengthy unbeaten run.

He said: ‘Obviously with Paulsgrove beating Locks Heath - Locks Heath have now drawn one and lost one - Paulsgrove have won one and lost one, if we can get the win against Grove than we put ourselves in a real strong position.

‘I think, without being too disrespectful, our fixture list seems to favour us to go on a good run if we can get the win.

‘Grove is a hard place to go. They’ve got a way with their support, they’re loyal, anyone from Paulsgrove - they’re hard-working people and they get stuck in.

‘The management team are in your face, the fans and the players are certainly in your face.’

Bessey, who was manager of Grove in 2018/19 prior to moving to Lederle Lane, added: ‘I like Grove and I like everyone at the Grove, but at the same time I’m at Fleetlands and we want the three points.

‘It won’t be easy, they’re a big, strong side; it’s not about the football ability when you go there, it’s about who can stand up and be counted - it’s about being a man and being up for the challenge.’

Paulsgrove will still be without some key first-team players when they welcome Bessey's side.

But boss Wayne Grant insists whatever team he puts out will stand up to the test.

He said: ‘It’s another tricky one, it’s always a good game (v Fleetlands).

‘Although we’re under strength as such for the first three or four games, the Grove are never going to roll over and have their bellies tickled by anybody.

‘Everyone is going to be in a game with us no matter who we put on the pitch, really.

‘It’s going to be tough. A lot of lads who used to play for Paulsgrove are at Fleetlands.

‘It’s going to be a typical top-of-the-table clash. The four teams - us, Locks Heath, Fleetlands and Moneyfields Reserves - if we’re not fighting for the top four than we should be disappointed with ourselves, really.’