While several clubs have taken umbrage at Sholing dropping back down to the Wessex ranks after four successful seasons in the Southern One South & West, Alresford co-boss Danny Robinson welcomes “the chance to test ourselves against the best and get an insight into the Southern League”.
That respect is strongly reciprocated by Sholing boss Dave Diaper, who believes the two clubs have much in common.
“There’s nothing between the two teams,” he said. “I don’t view us as better than they are.
“Like us, Alresford have a very tight-knit group of lads who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are full of energy, work-rate, passion and skill.
“I’ve already gone on record as saying they’re the best footballing side I’ve come across in a number of years and a lot of credit goes to their managers Tim Cole and Danny Robinson.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Alresford’s players. They’re very enthusiastic and they go about their football as they should do and are a credit to the club.
“Their chairman, Trevor Ingram, is a decent guy and they’re one of the teams from this division that could grace the Southern League quite easily.”
Sholing midfielders Lewis Fennemore and Tyronne Bowers are both struggling with back problems, but Diaper’s biggest concern is actually getting the game played after another rain-wrecked weekend.
Not only are the Boatmen angling for a Wessex League/League Cup double, but they also have the FA Vase in their sights and are still in the Russell Cotes Cup.
“We’ve had a brilliant first half to the season, but I don’t want stoppages to affect everything,” he said. Southampton University duo Samuel Olaofe and Jerome Ntumba – both midfielders – have signed for Sholing after impressing Diaper in training.
Both are expected to get reserve team run-outs shortly.
A 2pm pitch inspection is planned at Winchester today. Tonight’s admission is £5 adults, £2 concessions.