DAVE Diaper has warned his title-chasing Sholing side to be on their guard as they prepare to play three Sydenhams Premier bottom-five clubs in the space of five days.
Having seen off fourth-to-bottom Totton & Eling 2-0 at Portsmouth Road on Saturday, the Boatmen face a hat-trick of tricky away games against Verwood tonight, Romsey on Thursday and Fawley AFC on Saturday.
That’s followed next Tuesday by a trip to 16th-placed Bournemouth Poppies before they return home on Saturday week (March 29) for their huge FA Vase semi-final, first leg tie against Eastbourne United.
“I said to the boys before Saturday’s game that this is the most difficult period for us because we’re playing teams in the bottom third of the table who have everything to play for,” said Diaper.
“T&E were a credit to (co-boss) Stuart Hussey, working hard and closing us down, and it’s going to be no different tonight.”
Lee Wort gave Sholing a tenth-minute lead against T&E, capitalising on a defensive mix-up. And it was centre-back Pete Castle who secured victory on 72 minutes having been pushed up top.
“Ashley Jarvis, Worty and Mike Carter were all booked and we were mindful that if someone was sent off they’d miss the Vase match,” said Diaper. “We subbed all three and pushed Pete Castle up front and he’s looped the second goal over the ’keeper.
“I’m having to think in advance planning squads, which is difficult because of the number of games we’ve got to fit in. Byron Mason’s missed the last two games with a knee injury and we’re mindful of players picking up knocks.
“Our reserves have got a Southampton Senior Cup semi-final tonight (against Hamble Club at Follands Park, 7.30pm), so we can’t call on too many of those, but TJ Cuthbertson and Kev Brewster will come back in.
“It’s easy to manage 12 players, but a manager is really worth his salt when he can manage 20.
“I’m not too interested in performances at the moment, just about grinding out results.”