Football on the south coast is now back in full swing after the return of the Southern and Premier League – meaning a full complement of games took place over the weekend.

There were newcomers at both the top of English football and the lower reaches, as Brighton made their debut in the Premier League, whilst Moneyfields started life in the 8th tier.

As such, South Coast Journalism chose Moneys’ first Southern League game against Kempston Rovers for full match coverage, travelling down to Moneyfield Avenue to take in an enthralling encounter.

It took a while for the action to get going, however, as the opening ten minutes showcased two even sides battling for early control. 

The first proper chance fell for the away side, when Jake Newman sent a bobbling effort past Mowthorpe’s far post.

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But the hosts would grab the first goal of the game – Ryan Pennery had just been caught out by the offside flag moments prior to the opener, but at the second time of asking he timed his run to perfection to allow him the chance to go one on one with Conway in the Kempston goal. All the attacker had to do was roll the ball away from the grasp of the ‘keeper and pass the ball into the back of the net.

Moneys were now in control of the game, and almost made it two when they hit the away side on the counter. A cross from Havant and Waterlooville loanee Ridge gave Pennery a slight chance to chuck himself at the ball, but his diving header was narrowly the wrong side of the post.

At the other end a perfect chance presented itself to the Walnuts, but neither Newman or Ben Sheppnerd could latch onto the ball flung into the box, sending their combined effort wide.

With 37 minutes on the clock, Moneys stretched their advantage via Sam Pearce. The holding midfielder lurked at the back post for a corner, utilising his height to head home and boost his side’s chances of winning the game.

Both teams hadn’t held back in terms of flinging into challenges, and tensions were reaching boiling point. A heavy challenge by Sam Pearce in Kempston’s box caused further friction, with Walnuts’ captain Seb Simpson appearing to lash out at Pearce. The referee was well placed to spot the incident, and immediately dismissed the no.3. 

Things didn’t calm down there, as Grant Fryer lunged in on talismanic striker Steve Hutchings. In doing so, he picked up his second yellow, meaning the away side would face the challenge of surmounting a two-goal deficit with just 9 men. 

In the second half, they would be handed a huge lifeline on a silver platter when a mix-up at the back saw Newman capitalise on an under hit pass back to Mowthorpe and rolled the ball home to make it 2-1. 

Proper goal-mouth action in the second half was sparse as only speculative efforts were generated. 

Moneys knew all they had to do was hit the threadbare away side on the break, whilst keeping them at bay at the back.

There would be another dismissal, but this time Moneys would lose a man as Gary Austin was rightfully penalised for a lunging foul. A small fracas burst out, but the number of players on the pitch remained at 19.

Ultimately the dismissal only served as a minor inconvenience for the hosts, who still held the numerical advantage.

But the tide had turned in terms of momentum – Mowthorpe and his defence were busy during the last 15 minutes of action. The closest the away side came late on was substitute Nathan Tshikuna’s curling effort that floated just over the top of the goal.

Moneys held on for a debut win in the Southern League, a campaign that will hopefully produce even more excitement at Moneyfield Avenue.

Across in the South & West Division of the Southern League, four other south coast sides kicked their seasons off. All the pressure will be on Salisbury to end up on top of the pile come May, and they showed early signs of their title credentials with a comprehensive win over Mangotsfield United. 

Two first half goals from Claudio Herbert and Mark Francis sent the Whites on their way, before Kane O’Keefe struck 19 minutes from time to guarantee an opening day win. Eddie Perrett and Herbert added further gloss to a 5-0 victory.

Wimborne Town will look to build on last season’s showing, when they finished in a club-record high of 11th place. For the second season in a row, Bishop’s Cleeve were the visitors to Cuthbury on opening day, and the Magpies would have had high hopes going on the result of that game – a 4-1 victory to kick-off Matty Holmes reign. 

Magpies fans had to wait a little bit longer for the season to start as the away side arrived late, pushing kick off back. Bishop’s Cleeve would have wished they stayed at home, as the hosts ran into an early two goal lead. Luke Holmes was involved in both goals, setting up namesake Toby Holmes for the opener, before flinging in the cross for Matt Oldring to double Wimborne’s advantage.

However Cleeve were thrown a lifeline when Maybury was adjudged to have brought down an attacker in the area, giving the away side a penalty. 

Maybury then received a red card, meaning Wimborne had to see out their 2-1 lead in the second half with 10 men.

But a remarkable comeback never came around – Lovell made it three for the hosts to ensure they got off to the best start possible.

Across the border and into Hampshire, both AFC Totton and Winchester City got off to winning starts. 

Winchester’s two summer striker signings, Oli Bailey and Patrick Cox were both on the scoresheet, as the Citizens beat Shortwood United 4-2. 

Cox made the statement on social media that he has set a target of 40 goals for the entire campaign, and he got off to a great start when he bagged a hat-trick on his debut.

Ex-Winchester frontman Craig Feeney scored on his return to AFC Totton, but the Stags were pegged back by Barnstaple shortly after taking the lead in the second half. Stuart Mott had other plans, heading home at a corner on his second debut, before Nimes Pina grabbed a third to guarantee a 3-1 win.

In the Southern Premier Gosport Borough made their return to the 7th tier of English football, after a three-year spell in the National South. They made the lengthy trek to King’s Lynn, but any chance of a welcome return to life at this level were dashed by the hosts’ two first half goals. The final score would remain 2-0.

In Dorset, Weymouth hosted St. Ives, as the Terras looked to start Mark Molesey’s senior management career off with a bang. Unfortunately for Molesley’s men they could not find their way around a resolute St. Ives side. There would be a late goal – surprisingly St. Ives scored from a corner to make their long trip from Cambridgeshire worth it.

Weymouth’s Ridgeway rivals, Dorchester, made one of their longest trips of the season – visiting Banbury United, who finished in touching distance of the playoffs last campaign. That was in huge contrast with Dorchester, who potentially could have gone down on the last day of the season just three months ago. 

And the gulf in quality between the two sides was again apparent, when the Magpies fell behind to two early first half goals. They couldn’t prevent Banbury from increasing the scoreline, eventually losing 5-1 in Oxfordshire. A late David Jerrard penalty served as minor consolation for the travelling Dorch’ fans.

In the National South, the south coast’s three representatives looked to continue their unbeaten starts to the campaign. Poole and Bognor had shared the spoils during their midweek 2-2 draw at the Black Gold Stadium, and the Dolphins were back in action in front of their own fans when they entertained East Thurrock United.

East Thurrock also boasted the same start as the Dolphins, a draw and a win, suggesting that the encounter would be close fought. Poole took the lead via a long-range Steve Devlin strike, but found themselves 2-1 behind at the break. 

Poole’s fortunes briefly improved after the break as Abdulai Baggie grabbed an equaliser two minutes into the second half, but East Thurrock were still dangerous at retook the lead through Agyemang, who curled the ball into the back of the net to restore the away side’s lead.

The Dolphins failed to come back, and slipped to their first defeat of the season.

Bognor were on their travels to Welling United, who were winless after defeats to Chelmsford and Truro. The Rocks’ games have been filled with goals – a total of 9 goals in two games, shared between both teams. They continued that trend away at Welling, eventually drawing the game 3-3. 

Jimmy Muitt struck within the opening 10 minutes, before seeing his opener cancelled out by a Welling equaliser two minutes later. Just three minutes after that the Rocks would find themselves behind- before clawing an equaliser of their own back by the 22nd minute. 

The goalfest continued into the second half, with Pearce seemingly setting the Rocks on their way to another 3-2 win – before Welling equalised again. However, five points from their first three National South games is nothing to be laughed at, and with a few adjustments at the back, their attacking firepower will cause most teams at that level trouble.

At the other end of the goalscoring spectrum, Havant and Waterlooville were held to a 0-0 draw with Dartford. The Darts will be hoping to be up there once the dust settles at the end of the campaign, so a point from this fixture should be seen as hard earnt.

Eastleigh will look to make their Silverlake home a fortress this season, and after a narrow 1-0 win over Sutton during the week, they had momentum going into their tough test against Dagenham and Redbridge. 

A Ben Williamson double set the Spitfires up for a second win at home, but a late penalty for the Daggers ensured that the spoils were shared.

Yeovil Town have endured a torrid first week back in competitive football, conceding 9 goals in two games. After a thumping at the hands of Luton, Wolves dumped them out of the Carabao Cup during the week, leaving a lot of room for improvement for the Glovers. They hosted Accrington Stanley at Huish Park, where 2,464 people witnessed the 3-2 Yeovil win.

An early Accrington Stanley goal suggested that Glovers fans were in for another long afternoon, but Saints loanee Olufela Olomola struck an equaliser that sparked a comeback for the hosts. Francois Zoko tucked home the second before Olomola scooped the ball over the Stanley keeper to make it 3-1 at the break. Accrington pulled a goal back in the second half to set up a nervy finish to the game, but the hosts saw it out to pick up a first victory of the campaign. 

Further down the Solent, Portsmouth were back in league action as they visited Oxford United. The U’s were ruthless, meaning that Pompey were on the wrong side of a 3-0 defeat. The result was made even worse when manager Kenny Jacket revealed that Huddersfield loanee Tarieq Holmes-Dennis will need an operation, casting doubt over his Fratton Park future.

At the summit of English football, Brighton were given a baptism of fire when they hosted Manchester City in the evening kick-off. City are one of the favourites to be Champions after spending £217 million, dwarfing the £39.6m spent by the Seagulls in their attempts to shore up their squad and survive in the Premier League.

A sell out at the Amex was the backdrop to a Manchester City victory. City striker Gabriel Jesus saw two goals correctly ruled out, once for the illegal use of his hand during the first half, and a second strike made void by the fact the Brazilian was offside.

His fellow South American, Sergio Aguero, would be the difference, as his 70th minute strike finally broke Brighton’s resilience. Shortly after, Lewis Dunk’s Premier League debut saw the Seagulls defender turn a cross into his own net, with the final scoreline of 2-0 reflecting City’s quality over Brighton.

It must be said that Albion did very well to hold out, and similar displays against other sides in the Premier League will yield points.

Along the south coast, Southampton began their fifth consecutive season in the top flight with the visit of Swansea City. Despite dominating large spells of the game, Southampton couldn’t get on the scoresheet – nor could Swansea, resulting in a bore draw.

West Brom hosted the Cherries, in a match up where over the past few seasons Bournemouth have struggled against the Baggies’ rigid tactics. The home side took the lead in stereotypical fashion – Ahmed Hegazi heading home from a set-piece.

That was the major piece of action in a game where Bournemouth’s attack was thwarted, meaning there was no dream debut for Jermain Defoe on his Cherries return.

12th August 2017 - Jack Tanner; Andy Orman