‘They used their experience really well to get on the right side of the ref’ – Clanfield boss Blakely on Hampshire Premier League loss at table-topping Moneyfields
Clanfield boss Lee Blakely was taking the positives after his youngsters endured a tough afternoon in horrendous weather conditions at Hampshire Premier League leaders Moneyfields.
Blakely’s side were beaten 5-1, their seventh defeat in 11 Senior Division matches this season. But they had to play around an hour with only 10 men after midfielder Mike McCormack was sent off.
McCormack, on only his third start for the team, was shown a straight red for a bad tackle on Jake Knight which incensed the Moneys midfielder and left a large mark on his shin.
Clanfield could have been down to nine men, as keeper Ash Wright was fortunate to escape a red card after 26 minutes for bringing down Josh Bailey outside the area.
Moneys were already in front by that stage, Mig Dark converting a penalty after defender Josh Mound was deemed to have been fouled despite managing to stay on his feet and shoot just over the crossbar following a burst into the 18-yard box.
Blakely said: ‘I asked the ref at half-time what the rules were. Some refs would have said the advantage had been played. They screamed for the penalty and he gave it.
‘With the sending off, I think their (Moneyfields) reaction made the ref’s mind up a little bit. It was a bit late but there was no intention to hurt the player.
‘They used their experience really well to get on the right side of the ref.
‘Some refs would have sent the keeper off, some wouldn’t have. The decisions probably evened themselves out.’
Blakely felt his central midfield pair of McCormack and Jacob Mulligan were ‘matching’ the hosts, but the red card was a huge turning point. From that point on, it was hard to see Clanfield getting even a point.
‘I thought we gave a good account of ourselves,’ he said. ‘For the first half hour we matched them ok. The way we were trying to get in behind their wing-backs was effective - it was just our final ball was letting us down..
‘We played with a lot of purpose, we weren’t casual - we tried to get the ball forward quickly. It was encouraging.
‘We were still competitive, even with 10 men, but no side should be giving away two silly penalties like we did.’
Fielding one of their strongest reserve sides of the season, including ex-Pompey pro Ellis Martin on his debut for the club, Moneys took a 2-0 lead just before half-time when Josh Bailey fired home from close range after a Dark effort had been blocked.
Bailey headed wastefully wide at the post on 53 minutes, but shortly after latched onto a loose ball which Wright had allowed to bounce over his head. Trying to work a shooting opportunity, Bailey was brought down by Lloyd Williams and got up to convert the spot-kick.
Refusing to roll over, Clanfield reduced the arrears when Mulligan netted from close range.
Dan Penfold jumped off the bench to seal Moneys’ 11th win in 12 league matches. He had been on barely a minute when he slid in at the near post to poke home an inviting cross from fellow sub Brandon Rogers.
Two minutes from time, Penfold was coolness personified when he rounded Wright, checked back inside a covering defender, and tapped home from close range.
In between, Clanfield threatened again when the lively Charlie McNally - a constant danger on the right wing - crossed for sub Tim Mbuga to shoot low at Sam Richards.
‘We are still giving away sloppy goals,’ rued Blakely. ‘With the ball I’m not worried, but individual mistakes are giving teams a head start in games.
‘We have improved massively from the start of the season. We are up against players who have been there and done it, and we’re trying to get that experience.
‘We’re playing teams who know how to get the three points, we’re learning that.
‘I said at the start of the season I just want us to be competitive, ideally around mid-table, and learn.
‘If we can keep this group together for two or three years then we will have a really strong team.’
The win took Moneys five points clear at the top of the table, though Denmead have a game in hand.
Clanfield are 11th and, after this weekend’s clash with a Chamberlayne side immediately above the, face Paulsgrove and Locks Heath before ending the month against Liss, one of the four teams below them.
Moneys face Winchester Castle twice in their next three league games, with an attractive home game against third-placed Fleetlands in between on Wednesday, October 20.
Moneyfields: Richards, Dowell, Kyle, Martin, Mound, Hopkins, Knight, Viggor, Bailey, F Penfold, Dark. Subs used: D Penfold, Toman, Rogers, R Clark.
Clanfield: Wright, Kent-Houghton, Budini, Willmore, Williams, McCormack, Whitcombe, Mulligan, Locke, Glover, McNally. Subs used: Cripps, Mbuga, Jarrom.