WEMBLEY-BOUND Sholing chief Dave Diaper admits he questioned his own sanity when he turned and saw Ashley Jarvis sat on the bench during Saturday’s historic FA Vase win at Eastbourne United.
The former AFC Totton and Follands Sports marksman has banged in 31 goals this season as part of a lethal partnership with leading scorer Lee Wort.
And yet there was no place for him in the starting line-up in Saturday’s 4-2 semi-final, second leg victory in East Sussex – and he didn’t even get on as a sub.
Instead, Diaper chose to push muscular midfielder and skipper Byron Mason up alongside Wort to get under the skin of Eastbourne’s powerful central defensive pairing of Sean Ray and Shaun Loft.
“I felt really sorry for Ash,” Diaper admitted. “His workrate’s been phenomenal and he doesn’t get the accolades he deserves.
“But I just felt we needed to keep Eastbourne’s two big centre-halves occupied.
“When I looked at Ash sitting on the bench I was questioning my own sanity, but I had to change things for the second leg and even their manager said I’d caught him out by making the changes I did. We just needed that extra bit of strength up top.”
Before the Boatmen prepare to face West Auckland Town at Wembley on Saturday, May 10, they have the small matter of the Sydenhams League title to aim for.
Heading into tonight’s trip to Brockenhurst, they sit third, seven points behind leaders Alresford Town with seven games in hand.
It kicks off another marathon fortnight for the club who now face five successive away games.
After tonight’s trip to Grigg Lane they go to Newport IoW on Thursday, Lymington Town on Saturday, AFC Portchester next Tuesday and Fareham Town on Thursday week.
And by the time they step out under north London’s famous arch, they will have played 70 matches over 44 weeks.
As chairman and team boss combined, Diaper has busier been than most, admitting: “It’s been flat out for the last three or four weeks, constant and in your face, on and off the field.
“But don’t get me wrong, it’s a great problem to have and I’ll miss it when it’s not there anymore.”