DAVE Diaper is banking on his “man possessed” to fire Sholing through to the quarter-finals of the FA Vase at the Silverlake Arena tomorrow.
The Boatmen’s boss reckons that if top gun Lee Wort approaches tomorrow’s last-16 tie against Larkhall Athletic with anything like the hunger that destroyed Hullbridge Sports in the fourth round, the Sydenhams Wessex League’s sole survivors have every chance of marching into the last eight.
With key defenders Pete Castle (knee) and Mike Carter (hand) injured and TJ Cuthbertson and Alex Baldacchino cup-tied, Sholing will not be at full strength to face the might of a table-topping Larkhall side who have dropped just two points in the Toolstation Western Premier Division.
But while the Larks’ record of 68 goals scored in 22 league games looks ominous, Sholing’s is even more impressive with 76 scored in 22 Sydenhams Premier outings – with home-grown hero Wort accounting for more than a quarter of them.
In league and cup combined, the sharp-shooting 22-year-old has found the net 33 times in 36 appearances.
Diaper said: “Against Hullbridge I saw Lee Wort playing like a man possessed. He was so switched on and on fire.
“If we approach tomorrow’s game as we did the Hullbridge tie, it’s going to take a good team to stop us.
“Larkhall are a good team – they’re unbeaten and you don’t get much better than that.
“But we’ll be going for it. If we were knocked out knowing we could have done more, that would be disappointing. But if we get knocked out really going for it, then it wouldn’t have been for want of trying.
“Quite often if a team is slightly weakened (through injury) they will go in a bit negative, but we’re going to give it a real good bash.”
After a string of wet-weather postponements, Sholing got some much-needed match practice on Tuesday against Farnborough in the Russell Cotes Cup.
They lost 4-2, a week on from their first league defeat of the season at Blackfield & Langley, but will have benefited from game time – unlike Larkhall who haven’t played since January 29.
The Sholing pitch was under water again on Wednesday and, with more rain forecast, Diaper is concerned the big build-up to tomorrow’s tie could all be in vain.
“We’ve got to prepare for it to be on but, if the forecast’s right, it could well be off, which would be a nightmare,” he said.
“In cup competitions, in particular, you build up a mindset for a game like this and then, bang, it’s off.
“But it’s not just the playing side that concerns me.
“We’ve got to bring in extra stewards and we’re probably looking at an 8am pitch inspection because I’d imagine Larkhall will be leaving at 9am.
“We’ve got to be fair to them because I know what it’s like booking coaches etc.
“If it’s off tomorrow Larkhall won’t be inconvenienced with a midweek trip. It will go straight to next Saturday.”
In Castle and Carter’s absence, Diaper is likely to plump for a central defensive pairing of young Dan Miller and the experienced Lee Bright, who was due back from a week’s holiday yesterday.