Second-minute red card for goalkeeper McGeorge blows Moneyfields’ plans ‘out of the window’ in opening day Wessex League defeat at Horndean

Rudi Blankson struck a debut winner for Horndean as Moneyfields’ pre-match plans were ‘completely blown away’ inside two minutes of the Wessex League curtain-raiser.

By Simon Carter
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 9:48 am

Moneys were reduced to 10 men early on when goalkeeper Callum McGeorge was red carded for a rash challenge on Blankson outside the area.

Striker Dec Seiden was sacrificed for defender Corey Heath after Tom Cain volunteered to don the gloves.

Numerical parity was restored before half-time when Horndean skipper Sam Hookey was sent off for two yellows.

Moneyfields skipper Steve Hutchings with Horndean defender Eddie Wakley. Picture by Martyn White

Horndean wasted a golden chance to take the lead, Connor Duffin firing a penalty over the bar following Joe Briggs’ foul on Blankson.

Moneys’ best chance of the evening came when full-back Jack Chandler was through on goal, but keeper Cameron Scott produced what boss Michael Birmingham called an ‘outstanding’ save.

Scott’s long kick - after Moneys had pumped a free-kick into his arms - was gathered by Blankson, who cut inside from the left and fired a shot across Cain.

Moneys ended the night with a third different player in goal - ex-Deans defender Jack Lee taking over after Cain had been sin-binned for dissent.

Moneyfields' Joe Briggs wins a header, left, while Horndean skipper Sam Hookey is pictured prior to his first half dismissal. Picture by Martyn White

‘I have no qualms about the sending-off,’ said Moneys boss Glenn Turnbull. ‘It was nailed on. That absolutely killed us.

‘Callum slightly hesitated before making the challenge. He took everything - apart from the ball!

‘It looked a bad challenge, he was just a second too late. If he hadn’t hesitated he might have got there, but he will learn from this.

‘We’d been prepping the team for two or three weeks for this game, and after two minutes it was completely out of the window.

Horndean protest to referee Harry Scott prior to Moneys keeper Callum McGeorge being handed an early red card. Picture by Martyn White

‘We had to sacrifice one of our most creative players (Seiden), one of our best defenders (Cain) had to go in goal, and we’d lost our keeper.

‘It was between Dec and Cal Laycock who came off. You obviously couldn’t second guess Sam Hookey being sent off. If I’d known that, I’d have made a different change - hindsight is a wonderful thing.’

Young keeper Bailey Neal was involved in the warm-up at Five Heads Park, but was not included on a five-man bench. ‘Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing,’ Turnbull deadpanned.

Horndean were also down to 10 men when Hookey - who had a brief stint with Moneys in 2019 - was dismissed.

Connor Duffin about to fire a first half penalty over the bar. Picture by Martyn White

Birmingham said: ‘No qualms. I expect better from my captain, one of my most experienced players, I expect him to lead by example.’

‘I wouldn’t have expected him to act like a reckless 18-year-old. I will be talking to Samuel tomorrow night at training.’

Both managers started with three debutants - the Deans giving competitive starts to former Petersfield Town left-back Charlie Merritt, ex-Pompey Academy centre half Eddie Wakley and Blankson.

Lee, Harry Sargeant and Laycock all made their Wessex debuts for Moneyfields, though the former is now in his second spell at the club.

Sergeant was tasked with keeping a close watch on Tommy Tierney, with Blankson providing pace on the left flank and Alfie Lis on the right side.

Deans were minus the pacy Zak Willett, who scored 38 league and cup goals last season, who was on holiday.

Horndean manager Michael Birmingham looks on. Picture by Martyn White

Turnbull paid tribute to Cain for his performance as a stand-in keeper. ‘He was magnificent, there was no blame attached to him for the goal.

‘I don’t know if Callum would have saved it. If he’d been in goal, Caino would have been in defence and might have stopped the shot coming in …’

Turnbull summed up: ‘If they are the second title favourites - and I’m not playing mind games - I think we at least matched them. A draw would have been a fair result.

‘Last year we were taught a lesson at Horndean - that didn’t happen yesterday.

‘Sarge did a job on Tommy Tierney, Connor Duffin - the standout striker in the Wessex last season - was well marked by Jack Lee. Rudi was the best player on the pitch for them.’

Birmingham said: ‘It wasn’t pretty but it was a very, very good three points.

‘It doesn’t matter if you play fluent football and win, or play ugly and win, you still get the same amount of points.

‘I had players out - Zak Willett, Josh Deans, Ash Howes, Tommy Scutt, Harry Jackson - and we were playing against Moneyfields’ strongest team and restricted them to just one clear chance. To do that speaks volumes for my players, they were an absolute credit to Horndean.’

Moneyfields' Joe Briggs, right. Picture by Martyn White