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Title-hunters Sholing slip up
Relegation battlers Fawley rocked Sholing with two goals in five early first half minutes for the Sydenhams Wessex League title favourites fought back to force a 2-2 draw in an all-action affair at Holbury.
The FA Vase semi-finalists looked in serious danger of surrendering their 29-match unbeaten record when quality strikes by Ben Murphy and Matt Vining fired the Watersiders 2-0 ahead inside 11 minutes.
But Sholing, controversially denied a goal of their own late in the first half, hit back through substitute Barry Mason and Marvin McLean, whose equaliser came mid-way through the second period.
Sholing hit the Fawley woodwork five times in the second half, but were unable to clinch a winner.
Playing their fourth game in eight days, Sholing rang the changes in order to keep players fresh for next Saturday’s Vase semi-final first leg showdown with Eastbourne Town.
But manager Dave Diaper’s changed team were all at sea for the bulk of the first half and fell behind to two cracking shots as second-to-bottom Fawley came out of the traps at speed.
BEN MURPHY fired Fawley into a fifth minute lead with a fizzing cross-strike from the edge of the box.
In their next attack Fawley struck again with an equally fine goal – VINING burying a superbly struck free kick into the top corner.
Visibly wobbling and up against a side battling for their immediate SWL futures, Sholing gradually worked their way back into the game but half-chances went begging.
Dan Loader – remarkably the 11th player to don the Fawley goalkeeping jersey this season – beat out a Kevin Brewster shot with his outstretched legs.
On the half-hour Sholing had what appeared to be a perfectly good goal disallowed.
Brewster’s free kick smacked against the inside of Fawley’s right-hand upright.
Loader flung himself to his left to make a partial one-handed save – but was unable to prevent the ball from trickling across the line at the far post.
Pete Castle followed up to make sure but was flagged offside by the referee’s assistant and the “goal” was disallowed.
Fawley were putting in a massive shift and almost added a third before half-time as Callum Earl sent a shot just wide.
The second half was largely one-way traffic towards then Fawley goal substitute BARRY MASON eventually reducing the deficit after the influential McLean had carved out the opportunity on the left.
The tenacious Watersiders fought for all they were worth, Loader pulling off a string of fine saves before Sholing equalised through McLEAN, who converted a cross from Lewis Fennemore at the near post.
Sholing threw everything forward, repeatedly hitting the woodwork but were unable to break Fawley down for what would have been a winning goal.
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