Sholing manager Dave Diaper told his side to go out “all guns blazing” in his team-talk before they reached the final of the FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history by beating Eastbourne United 4-2 in the semi-final second leg in East Sussex. The Boatmen fired themselves to a 6-4 aggregate win and it was Diaper’s tactics and decision to play Mike Carter and Alex Sawyer in the centre midfield berths and, usual middle man, Byron Mason as one of the strikers, that saw his side secure a Wembley date in May.
An own goal by Joe Dryer, Carter, captain Byron Mason and Nick Watts got the goals that secured the historic moment, which saw the players and coaches celebrate in front of the travelling supporters.
“This without a doubt the biggest day in the club’s history, I want the people of Southampton come out and really show their support for Sholing,” said Diaper.
“My planning starts Sunday or Monday for Wembley, much of the research depends on who we have in the final – but for now I’m going to enjoy the victory and go out with the boys. “I’m absolutely speechless, tremendous stuff; I mean this team have already pushed my heart to its limits many times and today was no different. “I told them before the game that it was imperative we turned up today, tactically I made a few changes and it paid off. “We didn’t turn up in the first game (the 2-2 draw in the first leg) and I said to them ‘if we’re going to get knocked out of a competition go out all guns blazing, go out knowing we’ve given our all’.
“We were too frightened to lose in the first match. This was about saying that if you want Wembley you can’t be scared to play.
“I told the lads that this was just half-time and we’ve got to deal with their style of play which is very effective. “But we’ve dealt with it weathered the storm and the fourth goal was so important for us.”
In the second half United got two goals back and were in the ascendancy before substitute Watts grabbed his goal on the break as Lewis Fennemore delivered the ball into the box. “If they had scored a third they would have won the game,” said Diaper. “I was looking at the clock and it wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted it to.”
Sholing face West Auckland in the final.