Diaper's cup semi-final dilemma

Dave Diaper

Dave Diaper

First published in Sport

Sholing boss Dave Diaper wishes he took his players to the FA Trophy final – but is more frustrated at having to play three semi-final matches in eight days.

Diaper, pictured above, saw Gosport Borough lose 4-0 to Cambridge United at Wembley last Sunday as a guest of the Hampshire FA in the Royal Box.

“In hindsight, it would have been good to treat the players to a day out there,” he said, with the first leg of Sholing’s FA Vase semi-final against Eastbourne United now just two days away.

“It would have been a great incentive for them to savour the experience of a Wembley final. Just watching Cambridge was a learning experience. Their movement was good, they kept the ball and they were so well organised tactically.

“They all knew what they had to do.”

Diaper is also determined to have all bases covered as Sholing bid to complete a unique Hampshire double by becoming the county’s second team to reach Wembley this season.

Concerned that next Tuesday’s Wessex League Cup tie against Alresford Town will hamper preparations for the second leg, he was frustrated but not surprised to discover there is no chance of it being postponed.

Having had his request turned down by the Wessex League, he said: “When I spoke to [Wessex League chairman] Ian Hoare I told him I knew what the answer would be but I wouldn’t have been doing my job as manager properly if I hadn’t asked.

“You can understand it because of the weather we’ve had, that semi-final’s already been postponed twice.

“But it would have been a nice gesture to have been given an alternative date. Not many teams have to play three semi-finals in a week, we’re representing the Wessex League and you would think a solution could be found.

“It’s a real shame, I don’t want to have to pick and choose competitions, I want to go for everything and we need to be at our best to beat Alresford.

“I don’t want to have to devalue the Wessex League Cup by playing a weakened team, but I may well have to play our reserve team now.”

Sholing are hoping for a crowd of 450 for the visit of Eastbourne United, who lead the Sussex County League’s second division, which is one level below the Wessex League.

They will arrive at the Silverlake Arena confident after winning 9-0 while the Boatmen were losing 1-0 to Bournemouth Poppies on Tuesday night.

Diaper added: “I’m grateful to have a lot of help from other managers whose sides have played against Eastbourne so we know a lot about them despite not seeing their last game against Steyning Town."

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