Rowner Rovers stun title favourites Carberry to record greatest win of their Mid-Solent League history
Rowner Rovers kept Carberry’s title champagne on ice with the greatest win of their Mid-Solent League history.
With East Lodge and Cowplain drawing, Carberry would have clinched the Division 2 title with victory over the Gosport-based Rovers.
But instead they crashed to a shock 2-1 loss against a Rowner side they had caned 5-1 in October.
James Dedman’s Rovers moved level on points with table-topping Carberry as a result, with East Lodge and Cowplain a further point behind.
But Carberry have a game in hand and require just four points from their last two outings - against second-bottom Horndean United and rock bottom Segensworth - to clinch the second tier silverware.
Rovers endured a torrid MSL debut campaign in 2019/20, losing every game they played.
But the weekend success was their fourth of their second season.
‘It was a lovely win,’ beamed Dedman. ‘It was our best performance as a club. We played some great football, we passed it around, kept it on the deck.
‘Carberry must have been a bit stunned, but it was a fully deserved win.
‘It shows that teams mustn’t under-estimate us.
‘Carberry will probably still be champions, but we’ve slowed their challenge down. It’s a nice feeling.’
Rowner led at half-time through top scorer John Forrestall’s 11th goal of the season.
The lead was doubled when midfielder Pat Kerr beat three players on a run down the right and crossed into the danger area. Rowner recycled the clearance and left-back Ollie Urry netted an ‘absolute cracker’ from just outside the penalty box.
After Carberry reduced the arrears, Rovers were denied a third by a fine double save - first Forrestall’s shot being blocked and then Jonny McMullen’s follow-up header being palmed away.
‘Johnny was amazed he didn’t score,’ remarked Dedman.
Eight of the starting XI against Carberry were at Rowner last season, with only Urry, Kerr and keeper Jake Smith new for 2020/21.
The latter was a key arrival, as Dedman struggled throughout last term to find a reliable and regular shot-stopper.
Smith was back in goal against Carberry after being unavailable the previous week against Segensworth, when defender Alex Hall had to don the gloves.
‘We’ve won four games and have the chance to come second,’ the boss continued. ‘I think the team would have laughed if I’d offered them that at the start of the season.
‘We’d be more than happy with that - beats finishing rock bottom with no points from the games we played last season!
‘When we won our first game against Segensworth in October, you could feel the whole mood suddenly change.
‘It was like ‘right, we don’t have to lose every week.’ We liked that feeling.’