SHOLING had the worst possible warm-up for Saturday's big FA Vase semi-final at home to Eastbourne United as they crashed 1-0 at ten-man Bournemouth Poppies last night.
Connor Phillips cashed in some poor defending to hand Poppies a 22nd- minute lead and they held steadfastly onto that advantage despite having Will Robinson sent off for a second bookable offence shortly before half-time.
It was title favourites Sholing’s second defeat of the Sydenhams Premier campaign and means they have dropped five of the last six points after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Fawley.
Admitting “we were not our normal selves”, manager Dave Diaper could only deduce that his side were distracted by the two-legged semi-final against Eastbourne which stands between them and a trip to Wembley.
He said: “I’m disappointed, but it’s only human nature that minds were on Saturday. People were thinking about tackles and injuries - it’s happened to better teams than us.
“The final ball let us down all game and I was a bit concerned that we didn’t look strong enough up top. Bournemouth were more physical than us.
“But we have no divine right to win any game and, credit to Bournemouth, they dug in and defended well.
“They knew we’d be thinking about Saturday and their manager will have told them not to give us time on the ball and to make sure they got their tack¬ les in. I’d have done the same. “We’re a bit vulnerable at the moment, but we mustn’t let our heads drop. We’ve not become a bad team overnight.”
Sholing’s loss was Alresford’s gain as the league leaders soared six points clear at the top with a 4-0 humbling of Fawley AFC at Arlebury Park.
Dom Cope and Warren Bentley helped themselves to two goals apiece as the merry Magpies reeled off their 13th straight league win.
Reacting to the news from Bournemouth, co-boss Danny Robinson –whose side have played five more games than Sholing - smiled: “My feet are still on the ground and I’m not getting carried away. We can only look after our¬ selves.”
VYING with Alresford as the form side of the Sydenhams Premier Division are Folland Sports, who have strung together 12 wins and a draw.
Last night the Planemakers swept Fareham Town aside 5-1 through Jamie Barron (2), Ryan Long (2) and Mike Turvey – despite playing without a recognised goalkeeper.
With Ryan Gosney suspended and Sam Scrase on holiday, they lost new signing Scott O’Rourke to work commitments and handed striker Ben Kneller the gloves. Long’s second, scored from the penalty spot, saw Fareham reduced to ten men. Gary Austin replied for Town.
“We’re doing okay,” smiled manager Danny Bowers. “That takes us level on points with (third-placed) Winchester City.”
With second-to-bottom Fawley beaten, Totton & Eling climbed eight points clear of the drop zone with a handsome 4-1 home win over Christchurch.
The Millers were 3-0 up in 15 minuts through Ben Thompson, Jude Nwachukwu and Dougie Rowe before Nwachukwu struck again.
“It was a brilliant display and it’s been coming,” smiled co-boss Stuart Hussey. “We should have won by more.”
It’s now seven games without a win for reigning champions Blackfield & Langley who succumbed to a last-ditch Newport IoW decider at St George’s Park.
B&L goalkeeper Rory Anderson made three outstanding saves to deny Tom Scovell, Aidan Sainsbury and GC Gianvovich before Port’s Jake Younie hit the crossbar.
The Islanders finally took the lead with a 54th-minute Iain Seabrook penalty, Blackfield’s Martin Warren replied four minutes later and it remained all square until three minutes into stoppage time when former Winchester and Sholing wideman Charlie Smeeton sealed a 2-1 Newport win.
AFC Portchester striker Nathan Lynch had a night of mixed fortunes, scoring and then getting sent off at home to Brockenhurst..
Graham Rix’s men emerged 3-0 winners with Lynch, George Wells and Jamie Musselwhite on target.
In Sydenhams One, Hythe & Dibden roared to an 8-2 victory over Hayling United – Sean Stone (3), Mark Lilley (2), Lee Burch (2) and Jon Brock the scorers.