Sholing manager Dave Diaper has defended his decision to field a weakened side against Folland Sports.

The Boatmen suffered their first home league defeat for 16 months when they lost 3-2 to the Planemakers on Easter Monday, mainly because the side he put out scarcely reflected his strongest XI.

Keeper Matt Brown, Danny Cox, Dan Miller, Nick Watts and Alex Sawyer, who captained the side, were the only familiar first-team names along with relatively new signing Alex Baldacchino, the striker notching a brace in the match.

Diaper gave the opportunity to Mitch Fear, Lewis Fear, Coby Wilson and Jamie Mansell to prove their worth in the Wessex clash, all of whom were part of Dave Fear’s reserve side that won Southampton Senior Cup last week.

Despite losing, Diaper’s side need just nine points from five games to win the league and the boss was very pleased with what he saw from his youngsters.

“I’m really happy with how they’ve done, none of them were overawed and at such a young age it is great to see,” he said.

“There wasn’t meant to be any disrespect in my selection, I had to think about Wembley because that is the priority. I had to eradicate the risk of anyone getting suspended.

“It was a great learning curve for me to see how all the youngsters got on and I’m pleased how well they did.”

Sholing have five games left and play all of them over the next week and a half, starting with Whitchurch United at the Silverlake Arena on Thursday night (19.45).