SHOLING manager Dave Diaper won’t be taking a leaf out of Mauricio Pochettino’s book for tomorrow’s eagerly awaited FA Vase last-16 showdown with Larkhall Athletic at the Silverlake Arena.
In the eyes of many Saints supporters – Diaper included – the St Mary’s boss showed the FA Cup a criminal lack of respect when he fielded a weakened side in last week’s miserable 1-0 exit at Sunderland.
It leaves Sydenhams Premier outfit Sholing as the city’s last hope for Wembley and, unlike their lofty Premier League neighbours, the Boatmen will tap into all available resources of talent and hunger to try and reach north London’s promised land.
“Southampton had a great opportunity to progress in the FA Cup, but they were pitiful,” lamented Diaper.
“I shall be telling my players to look at the way Saints approached that game – and do the complete opposite tomorrow!
“Someone should have sat down with Pochettino and told him the importance of the FA Cup. It’s a damn shame to see such a big chance missed.”
With Monday’s Vase quarter-final draw throwing up a home tie against Wisbech Town for tomorrow’s victors, Diaper, right, and his players need no such pep talk about the magnitude of tomorrow’s game.
Having done the club proud for four seasons in the Southern League, the Boatmen’s squad have stuck solidly together following voluntary demotion to the Wessex ranks and responded by dropping just seven league points all season and stringing together their best ever Vase run. “We’ve got a team full of pride and winners, players who are not used to defeat,” said Diaper.
“As a non-League manager all you can wish for is 100 per cent commitment, desire and passion.
“If our players want it enough and apply themselves properly, they’re good enough to get a result.
“There’s no point being cagey and losing by the odd goal. We’re going to have a real good bash.
“If we lose, it won’t be for want of trying. So many times you hear managers say the opposition deserved to go through because they wanted it more than we did.”
Larkhall – top of the Toolstation Western Premier Division – are undefeated in the league this season and Diaper expects a humdinger of a tie.
He said: “Their manager’s putting the stance on it that they’re the underdogs, but I can see it being a very keenly contested game.
“We’re in unknown territory, whereas Larkhall have been knocked out at this stage two seasons running and I’m sure they’ll want to make amends.
“Drawing a home tie in the quarter-finals is a massive incentive for both clubs but, in a way, it makes it worse as a manager. It’s so easy to start thinking about the next round before you’re through this one, but that’s only human nature. “Tomorrow’s massive and whichever team can handle most pressure will probably end up winning.
“With Saints away, we’re hoping for a bumper crowd.”
Sholing’s central defensive colossus Pete Castle may well return after knee trouble, but Mike Carter remains sidelined and TJ Cuthbertson and Alex Baldacchino are cup-tied. Saints season-ticket holders can get into tomorrow’s tie for the reduced price of £3. Standard entry is £5 adults, £3 concessions, £2 12-16year-olds and free for under-12s.
FA Vase quarter-final draw (matches to be played on Saturday, March 8): East Preston or St Andrews v Spennymoor Town or Newcastle Benfield, Eastbourne Utd or Morpeth Town v Ampthill Town, Sholing or Larkhall Athletic v Wisbech Town, Dunston UTS or Brightlingsea Regent v West Auckland Town or Hallen.