‘The best team won by a mile’ – Hutchings and Cain take centre stage as ‘new’ Moneyfields dump ‘old’ Moneyfields out of the FA Vase
The ‘King of Dover Road’ Steve Hutchings grabbed the goals that gave ‘new Moneyfields’ FA Vase success against ‘old Moneyfields’.
Hutchings struck in each half against a Portchester starting XI containing eight of his former Moneys colleagues, with another six on the bench, and managed by his one-time Moneys boss Dave Carter.
It would have been an easy decision for the sponsors to award Hutchings their man of the match champagne. After all, he had led the line superbly, captained by example, and produced two finishes worthy of a higher level than a game involving two clubs from the ninth tier of the English pyramid. His reaction at the final whistle told how much this win meant on a personal level.
But Hutchings was overlooked for the sponsors’ bottle of bubbly; instead, and absolutely correctly, it was given to Tom Cain for his performance in the centre of Moneys’ three-man central defensive unit.
He was superb throughout against a Portchester forward line containing two players - Kieran Roberts and Lee Wort - who entered the tie boasting 23 goals between them in 2021/22. At least one of the pair had netted in each of the Royals’ previous 12 league and cup outings.
Cain was one of six players in the Moneys starting XI who had been within a penalty shoot-out of stepping out at Wembley in last season’s FA Vase final.
The others - Tom Price, Elliott Turnbull, Harry Birmingham, Callum Glen and James Franklyn - were all impressive as Moneys turned in easily their best display of 2021/22 against a below-par Portchy. But Cain stood out, a colossus at the back in terms of heading, tackling and distribution.
Turnbull said the sponsors had got their decision right.
‘Steve (Hutchings) was exceptional, Callum Glen was very good, the back five probably put in their best performance of the season collectively,’ he admitted. ‘But Tom Cain was outstanding.
‘When he was announced as the man of the match and both benches clapped, that to me says an awful lot. He’s got that in his locker, he’s probably been our best player this season and Saturday was the epitome of that.
‘We spoke about it with Caino at training on Thursday, we told him we needed him to marshall and lead the defence. He could not have done any more on delivering what we asked.
‘He’s a really nice kid, he loves the off-field stuff as much as the on-field bits. We gave him a chance to rebuild his career (at US Portsmouth) and he was one of the first I wanted to reward, with a bit of money, when I got the chance to come here.
‘He would definitely have gone somewhere if I hadn’t signed him, to Baffins or Portchester.
‘He wanted to play a central role last season but we weren’t going to move Tom Jeffes so Caino had to play on the left side.
‘Playing in the centre suits him, though, as it suits his range of passing.
‘I said beforehand we needed seven out of 10 from all our players. We got that, with a couple of nines in there - Caino, Hutch, Cally Glen.
‘Franko (Franklyn) was back to near his best, Elliott had his best game of the season, Macca (Matt McGlinchey) was back to the standard he set early in the season, Pricey was Pricey.
‘I always say if we can have everyone playing as a seven out of 10 we can be a match for anyone. We have learnt this season nobody can be a five or six, everyone needs to be on it.
‘The best team won by a mile.
‘It was definitely our best performance of the season; as a group it was probably our best performance since Tavistock (USP won 3-1 in Devon in last season’s Vase fifth round tie) I would say.’
It was Moneys’ first PO mainland postcode win of the campaign after Wessex Premier losses at Baffins (0-2) and Horndean (0-3).
‘There was a solid determination about us beforehand,’ Turnbull revealed.
‘When we played at Baffins I probably downplayed it (to the players) beforehand, and when we played at Horndean I went full Alex Ferguson before the game - and that clearly backfired as well!
‘We just needed to get to a level of intensity without whipping them up too much, because I knew Portchester would come at us early on.
‘For 10 or 15 minutes they were in the ascendancy. But when Plan A didn’t work, there wasn’t much else.
‘They had another 10/15 minute spell in the second half, they hit the post - though even if they had gone in I still think we’d have won as we had more about us.
‘We were a bit wasteful late on, and it was unbelievable to play almost seven minutes of time added on. I’d like one of those watches referees have that seem to generate time - then I’d have time to do everything I need to do!
‘Having said that, you could have played 20 minutes added time and I don’t think they (Portchester) would have scored.’
There were also words of praise for Hutchings, now 13 goals away from reaching the 250 milestone during a stunning Moneyfields career now into its 11th season.
‘Steve was exceptional, a real leader. He was really up for it - one of the Portchester staff gave him a note before the game in a little brown envelope. There was a note saying ‘I’ve taken this out of Pearcey’s pocket (Sam Pearce) so there’s room for you.’
‘Steve didn’t mention it to me until after the game, but that was my team talk done for him!
‘Everyone knows he’s called ‘The King of Dover Road’ and reading that Brett Poate had called him ‘The Prince of Dover Road’ riled him up too.
‘His two goals were of a very high standard. The first one I thought he had taken it too early, and the second one … if that had been on the telly they’d be showing it all the time.
‘He’s also harshly treated by some refs, some of the challenges on him were shocking.’
Turnbull had told The News in the build-up to the tie that he believed his side were underdogs and that victory would be a bigger upset than when USP knocked out higher tier Portchester at the same stage of the Vase last season.
‘Were there any mind games? I don’t think so, I just told the truth,’ he stated.
‘Dave (Carter) said beforehand that I’d been taking lessons from Birmy (Horndean boss Michael Birmingham). But the facts are the facts - they (Portchester) have a Southern League team with vast experience. They have players who’ve appeared at Wembley and reached the second round proper of the FA Cup.
‘That’s not mind games, that’s just facts. We’ve only got Hutchings with proper Southern League experience.
‘Maybe it (mind games) works, maybe it doesn’t. I’m not clever enough to get involved in all of that.
‘The game wasn’t won and lost on a Friday evening when people sat down to read the newspaper. I’d like it to be that easy, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Asked for his thoughts on the defeat, Carter replied: ‘C***!’
‘They wanted it more than we did, good luck to them - we got what we deserved.
‘We didn’t handle Hutchings well, he was a menace all game, he took his goals well.
‘For the first goal Curt normally heads those, but he took his eye off the ball as he was looking to see where Steve was.
‘We didn’t create much. Apart from Marley Ridge hitting the post, we didn’t create much at all.
‘It was a frustrating afternoon. We had plenty of possession but in the wrong areas, and our decision making was wrong. Our front four were flat - Kieran Roberts hardly touched the ball.
‘It’s disappointing to be knocked out, it was a competition we wanted to do well in.’
Carter revealed it was a ‘gamble’ to start Wort, as he had only landed at Southampton Airport less than two hours before kick off. ‘It didn’t work out,’ said the boss. ‘Lee didn’t see much of the ball.’
He added: ‘We can’t sit here feeling sorry for ourselves, we’ve got another massive game on Tuesday.’
That is certainly true, as the Royals welcome Horndean to the On-Site Group Stadium desperately needing league points.
Though it is still incredibly early days - Portchester have only played 15 per cent of their Wessex fixtures - Carter will not want to fall too far off the leading group.
The Royals, down in 14th place, trail leaders Brockenhurst by 13 points, but have four games in hand. Elsewhere, they can’t let local rivals Baffins, Fareham and Horndean open up too big a gap either. If the Deans win on Tuesday they will be 10 points clear of Portchester having played a game more. But if the Royals win, it all suddenly looks a lot, lot closer ...