Stoppage time drama as top two Denmead and Moneyfields draw the Hampshire Premier League’s ‘match of the season’
Dan Penfold’s controversial injury-time leveller for Moneyfields ensured honours were shared in the Hampshire Premier League’s ‘match of the season’.
In a hugely entertaining affair that was a credit to the league, the Senior Division’s top two combined for a six-goal thriller at Dover Road.
After taking a second minute lead, table-toppers Denmead slipped 2-1 down before two quick goals midway through the second half seemed to be extending their lead to four points.
But with Moneys on the brink of only a second loss in their 38-game HPL history, referee Des McCullough overruled a linesman’s flag in allowing Fred Penfold to race on and square the ball for brother Dan Penfold to fire home a 95th minute equaliser.
Moneys boss Lee Mould said: When I saw the offside flag I turned away - the next thing I heard the cheering after we scored!
‘The referee told me afterwards there had been some dubious calls previously - he thought it was a dubious call, hence why he carried on.
‘3-3 was a fair result - but it wasn’t the result we wanted and it certainly wasn’t the performance I wanted.’
Mould had said before the game that his squad had ‘no better incentive’ to pick up three points than to ‘do it for Stanlie’.
Defender Stanlie Hopkins remains in hospital in Southampton after being stabbed in a pub car park last Monday. An online Crowdfunder set up by Moneys to raise £1,000 for his family has now almost reached the £6,000 mark - testament to the close-knit Portsmouth area football community.
Moneys, though, started poorly as Denmead took a second minute lead. Owen Milne stepped up to take a free-kick around 10 yards in from the left-hand touchline level with the edge of the 18-yard box, and his curling effort went over keeper Sam Richards’ head and nestled in the far corner.
It took the hosts around 20 minutes to get a foothold in the game, and Denmead keeper Darren Joseph stood up well to block a shot from Josh Bailey - the striker only playing due to Moneys’ first team fixture at Alresford being rained off.
A neat back heel from Dan Penfold gave Bailey another chance, but his low shot was saved.
At the other end Denmead were inches away from a 2-0 lead, Milne sending Kieran Hammond clear and his shot rebounding off the inside of a post.
Denmead were looking dangerous on the counter, and Moneys had another let off when Charlie Crook’s cross got stuck under Milne’s feet
It was end to end stuff but Moneys levelled when Dowell’s fierce shot was pushed onto the bar by Joseph and Bailey prodded home the rebound from close range on 35 minutes.
The same player latched onto a long clearance six minutes later, but fired wastefully over as Moneys ended the half on top.
The started the second period in a similar vein and took a 53rd minute lead. Brandon Rogers had been moved from the left side of a back three to left wing-back when Liam Kyle went off injured, and it was from Rogers’ cross that Bailey powered in a header.
Milne levelled just after the hour mark with a fine strike - a 20-yarder which whistled low past the diving Richards into the corner.
It was suddenly all Denmead and, after Charlie Crook had seen a shot cleared off the line, the impressive Ryan Chandler fired the visitors into a 66th minute lead.
A raft of substitutions all contributed to a large amount of stoppage time - the second half having kicked off late while someone from Moneyfields was found to run the line (the task eventually falling to first team defender Harry Birmingham).
But it was a flag on the opposite side of the pitch that McCullough was to overrule, setting the scene for Dan Penfold to have the final say in one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen at HPL Senior Division level. Denmead will obviously feel they should have won, but a point each was - in my neutral’s eyes - a very fair result.
Lest we forget, these are two sides who were serial winners in Division 1 - Moneys notching up 21 victories in 23 matches over two seasons and Denmead 19 wins in 29 fixtures.
They have carried on winning at a higher level in 2021/22 - it is easy to forget Denmead were a Meon Valley Sunday League side as recently as 2018/19 - and this match was a credit to the county league.
It will need a very good side to stop Moneyfields and Denmead - with just two losses in 29 league games combined so far - from finishing in the top two places.
Moneyfields: Richards, Dowell, Kyle, K Clark, Rogers, Haly, Knight, Viggor, Long, D Penfold, Bailey. Subs used: Sillence, R Clark, G Molyneaux, F Penfold.
Denmead: Joseph, Arend, Elmes, L Crook, Daunton, Field, D Lucas, Chandler, Mile, Hammond, C Crook. Subs used: Simmonds, Trevaskis, Boopa.