Paulsgrove sign Portsmouth Sunday League striker in search for another ‘rough diamond’ like Zak Willett

Paulsgrove boss Steve Ledger is hoping the club can unearth another ‘rough diamond’ to follow Zak Willett into the Wessex League.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 10:12 am
Zak Willett scored 24 goals in only 13 appearances for Paulsgrove last season. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Zak Willett scored 24 goals in only 13 appearances for Paulsgrove last season. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Willett has enjoyed a superb 14 months since Grove handed him his Hampshire Premier League debut at the start of last season.

After bagging 24 goals in just 13 appearances, Willett was snapped up by two divisions higher Horndean.

He has continued his stunning form in 2021/22, and is currently the third highest scorer in the Wessex Premier with 10 goals following a double strike in last weekend’s 9-0 blitzing of Christchurch.

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The only two players to have scored more than him so far are Brockenhurst’s Silvano Obeng and Kieran Roberts of AFC Portchester - two players with Southern League experience.

Willett was signed by Grove from the City of Portsmouth Sunday League, and now Ledger has done the same in bringing in Frankie Kemp.

The boss recently watched Kemp in action for Sunday Leaguers Mother Shipton and said: ‘I knew a couple of other clubs were keen so I thought I’d get in there first.

‘I want him to get involved straight away so he’ll be with the first team next weekend.

‘I’m not surprised Zak is doing so well. Horndean have a great set-up, they’ve got great coaches.

‘I knew Zak had the tools - he was a rough diamond (at Paulsgrove) who needed a bit of chiselling round the edges.

‘They will work on his movement at Horndean and I can see him progressing after a season or two at Horndean.

‘It’s great publicity for Paulsgrove.

‘Frankie Kemp is 25, he’s got pace, he scores goals - fingers crossed, we can find ourselves another Zak Willett. ’

Grove rattled off their fifth successive league and cup win last Saturday, 5-1 at Overton.

Shane Cornish, playing up front in the absence of Danny Lane, struck the first two goals before Josh Parry, called up from the reserves, came off the bench to plunder a hat-trick.

It was Parry’s first first team minutes of the season, after two unused sub appearances in 2020/21.

As a result, he will stay in Ledger’s squad for the home HPL Senior Division game with Chamberlayne on Saturday.

Cornish, meanwhile, now has eight goals for the season.

‘At Baffins he was more of a holding midfielder,’ said Ledger. ‘But we’ve used him up front and that’s improved his game - he’s told me that himself.’

Grove had to bring in other reserves at Overton, with keeper Matt Wearn and left-back Ian Cole also starting.

There appears good depth at the club, with Grove’s reserves top of the Hampshire Combination East Division after four successive wins (and 16 goals).