SHOLING captain Byron Mason admits the Boatmen are desperate to complete a unique Hampshire double – by following their Gosport Borough pals to Wembley.
The 27 year-old admitted to feeling a little envious when Gosport got to the FA Trophy final, but is confident Sholing can still reach the FA Vase final on Saturday, writes SIMON WALTER. “We know a lot of the Gosport lads because there are so many of them from Southampton, we always see each other on nights out,” explained Mason, following the 2-2 draw against Eastbourne United in the semi-final first leg.
“They’ve told us how good it is to play at Wembley and we were very jealous of them last week. But we can still get there ourselves.
“I’ve only been to Wembley once, to watch AFC Totton in the  FA Vase final, and I don’t think I’ll get a better chance to play there, so it’s make or break. “To get to the semi-final is a huge thing for me as I wasn’t in the first team when Sholing were last in the Wessex League.” Mason, a classy, athletic midfielder and brother of fellow midfielder Barry, was relieved when Mike Carter levelled the tie, having given away the penalty from which Eastbourne scored their equaliser just before half-time. “It was a silly penalty to give away,” he said. “There was a scramble following a corner, it went to the edge of the box and I thought he was going to smash it so I went to block it. But he shifted to one side and my momentum took him out.
“We could also have prevented their second goal but, after a lacklustre spell, we finished the stronger team.”
Mason enjoyed playing alongside goalscorer Carter for the last 15 minutes.
“I think centre midfield’s his best position,” he said. “I love being alongside him, he’s an all-round good player and he’s got us back to square one.
“All we need to do is take that away and realise that we’re good enough to make the final. “Let’s go there and go for it! All the boys are up for it but when you’re at home you don’t do things you might do away from home because you’re scared of doing something silly in front of a big crowd expecting us to win. “It is tough but the boys don’t crumble under pressure, we coped with it well and showed that in the second half.
“They’re a decent team but I thought they’d be a little better than they were.
“It wasn’t up there with our best performances, we’re yet to see that in this tie, but hopefully that comes in the second leg and we take a lot of support.
“We need to hear people chanting our name, it gives us a lift.”