Clanfield (blue) v Andover New Street Swifts. Picture by Alex ShuteClanfield (blue) v Andover New Street Swifts. Picture by Alex Shute
Clanfield (blue) v Andover New Street Swifts. Picture by Alex Shute

Picture gallery – Gouge grabs winner on first start as Clanfield enjoy great day in the Hampshire Premier League

Liam Gouge struck the only goal on his first start as Clanfield enjoyed a great day in the Hampshire Premier League.

The former Fleetlands striker netted a second half winner against fellow Senior Division high-fliers Andover New Street Swifts at Westleigh Park.

Victory took Clanfield to within a point of third-placed Swifts and second-placed Locks Heath, who lost 3-2 to leaders Colden Common. And Lee Blakeley’s side still have two games in hand on both Locks and Swifts.

More importantly, in terms of Clanfield’s dream to be playing in the Wessex League next season, they are now three points ahead of Stockbridge - who lost 2-1 to Denmead - and again have two games in hand.

Clanfield and Stockbridge are the only two HPL clubs to have applied for promotion to Wessex 1 for 2023/24. Though both clubs could conceivably be invited into the 10th tier of English football, whoever finishes highest obviously stands a better chance.

Gouge was brought in recently to aid Clanfield’s promotion push, not long after scoring a hat-trick against their reserves for Fleetland’s second team.

Blakeley was delighted with the display against Swifts, telling The News: ‘It was probably our best performance and result of the season.

‘We could have been out of sight by half-time. We were excellent, outstanding I’d go as far to say.’

With 13 games left - including the last five shoehorned into the first 13 days of May - Blakeley is resorting to managerial cliches.

‘We’re not taking anything for granted, we just have to keep on doing what we’re doing,’ he commented. ‘We’re not going to write anyone off.

‘We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves, just taking each game as it comes.’

Blakeley insists the arrival of Gouge - who had made three first team appearances as a sub for Wessex 1 club Fleetlands this term - will be his last signing of the season.

‘I’ve got 20-22 players now that can all step in and do a job.

‘The competition is massive, I had 20 players to pick from at the weekend - four had to miss out, but that’s football.’

Clanfield still have to visit leaders Colden Common, who are seven points ahead of them having played the same amount of games.

Clanfield also have to go to Locks Heath and must play Denmead twice. Denmead visit Westleigh Park on Easter Monday (7pm) - two days after Clanfield face Moneyfield Reserves (6.30pm) at the same ground in what is Moneys’ home fixture.

Before that, though, Clanfield travel to Whitehill & Bordon next weekend.

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