SHOLING star Mike Carter is still on course for his first trip to Wembley after capping a man-of-the-match performance with his dramatic late equaliser.
The 22 year-old ensured the second leg of the FA Vase semi-final will begin all square after rifling in a late 18-yarder to secure a 2-2 draw against Eastbourne United at the Silverlake Arena.
“I’ve not been to Wembley before, not even as a fan,” he said, after being presented with the man-of-the-match award by Saints legends Jim Steele and Mark Dennis.
“The Vase just seemed like another cup competition to start with but, as you start going through a few rounds and you get nearer Wembley, it becomes massive,” he continued.
“So it was really nice to get such an important equaliser at the end. I don’t score loads of goals, which the guys take the mick out of me for, they say I never catch them nicely but I did when it mattered!”
Carter, a trainee electrician and one of several players who work for manager Dave Diaper during the week, began the match at right-back.
With Eastbourne leading 2-1, Kevin Brewster’s introduction allowed him to switch to a more advanced role as on attacking midfielder behind striker Lee Wort.
The tactical switch reaped dividends when he struck the 83rd-minute leveller.
“I literally play everywhere and as the game went on the manager decided to get me forward to play a bit more football,” he continued.
“Because we were at home we wanted to start positively and play two up front. There are a few ways we can play and, fortunately, when we changed it I managed to get in amongst them.
“Now it comes down to one game, it’s in our hands and we feel we’ve got enough about us to get the win.”
Eastbourne United play a level below Sholing, as leaders of the Sussex County League’s second division.
“We haven’t seen them as a lower-league side, they’ve brought in players from higher leagues and are a good side, as you’d expect of a team in the last four of a national competition,” continued Carter.
“They made things difficult for us but a draw wasn’t the worst result. We already knew they’re a physical side and we’ve exploited a few of their weaknesses. We didn’t get the rub of the green at times but have learnt more about them.
“They’ll feel the pressure being at home and being expected to win the game and we’ve shown over the course of the season that we can grind out results at tough places. We’ve beaten good sides from all over the country.”
Carter, who lives in Sholing, is one of several home grown players in Diaper’s side.
“I’m playing with my best mates, I couldn’t ask for any more,” he continued. “We’re all local, with players from St Mary’s, Thornhill and Hedge End.
“You won’t get a better group of lads, we’re a really tight group and that’s what we can count on. “Next week’s a massive one-off game for everyone and hopefully we’ll do the business.”