‘They were a class above’ – Paulsgrove’s cup final hopes shattered by remarkable 7-0 loss in Southampton to Bush Hill

Wayne Grant admitted Paulsgrove could have lost by even more goals after they were blown away by Bush Hill in a remarkable 7-0 L4 Teamwear Challenge Cup semi-final defeat.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 1:15 pm
Nathan Gray (red/black), pictured in action for Fleetlands last season, struck a rapid hat-trick as Paulsgrove suffered their heaviest defeat for seven years at Bush Hill in the semi-finals of the L4 Teamwear Challenge Cup. Picture: Keith Woodland

And the Grove boss insisted the fact the fixture was switched from Test Park to Bush's former home ground at Mansel Park in Southampton could not be used as an excuse for the club’s heaviest defeat for seven years.

Grant conceded the two sides could have faced off on 'Asda car park' and it would still have been the same outcome.

He admitted: 'It wasn’t anything sinister, it was always down to be at their ground, it would have been better if it had been at Test Park (Team Solent’s former Wessex League ground where Bush have played for most of the past 12 months).

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‘A few of the lads were moaning about it but it’s no different from when they come to us - we always beat them at home and they always beat us at their place.

‘They could played us on Asda car park and they would have beaten us - that’s the best Bush Hill team I’ve seen for a long time.

‘We could have played them anywhere - we could have played them at Wembley - they’d have smashed us to bits. They were just a class above.'

Grove made their first visit to Mansel Park in April 2014, and had Nathan Gibbs sent off as Bush romped to a 6-0 victory.

Since then, they had only ever won once at Bush - a goal from Danny Lane giving them victory during Grove’s 2017/18 Senior Division title-winning campaign.

The weekend hammering, though, was their heaviest ever defeat against Bush.

It was the first time Grove had conceded seven goals to another HPL club since a 7-1 loss to Stockbridge in December 2014.

And it was the club’s biggest margin of defeat since Chaz Gardner struck four times in Baffin Milton Rovers’ 8-0 HPL victory in August 2014.

Nathan Gray, who had a short spell at Fleetlands last season, rounded off the eyebrow-raising victory by bagging a seven-minute hat-trick in the closing stages.

By then, goals from Callum Drake, Noel McCarthy-Gardiner, Ben Rankin and Shaun Haines inside the opening 65 minutes had put the tie beyond Grove.

Bush now face Locks Heath in the Hampshire Premier League’s post-lockdown cup final at Westleigh Park next Saturday (May 29).

With Bush one of two HPL Senior Division sides promoted to the Wessex League as part of the FA's non-league restructure - Infinity are the other - their rivalry with Grove has to be placed on the backburner.

Grant says he will miss games with Bush.

'I wouldn’t say it was flattering (7-0), to be fair they could have had a couple more,’ he remarked.

‘They missed a couple of chances in the first half - I don’t think it flattered them at all.

‘Fair play to Euguene (McManus, Bush manager) and Bush Hill, they did a proper number on us.

‘They just battered us, to be fair. Hats off to Bush Hill - that’s the best Bush team I’ve seen for a long time.

‘There are no excuses, our lads didn’t show up and they played us off the park.

‘I’ll miss the rivalry with them, but this wasn’t a great game.’