FOLLAND Sports boss Danny Bowers is in no position to ring the changes for tonight’s Hampshire FA Senior Cup tie at home to Ringwood Town.
For one thing, he doesn’t have a big enough squad available. For another, tonight’s winners have the massive incentive of hosting Conference outfit Eastleigh in the next round, writes WENDY GEE.
Not for the first time this season, the Planemakers had a raft of absentees for Saturday’s FA Cup preliminary round tie at AFC Portchester.
They came through with flying colours, winning 4-1 thanks to a brace apiece from Ashley Jarvis and free-scoring skipper Jamie Barron, but Bowers is just praying for the day he gets all his players back.
He said: “Stuart Gates played ten minutes for the reserves and injured his other ankle, Jimmy Vinton’s still not back from work commitments, Rhys Evans is struggling with his ankle and Jake Long and Will Harris both finished three-match bans on Saturday. Plus, Pip Nolan has left the club and Alex Easton has gone to Portchester.
“We get Will and Jake back tonight, but then we lose Ryan Long to work and Matt Burt to a back problem.
“We seem to get one back and lose three at the moment. It’s crazy.”
The saving grace for Follands is the young players coming through.
Midfielder Matt Casey – 17-year-old brother of Winchester City ’keeper Ross – made his debut at Portchester, while ex- Sholing reserve defender Callum Brockway played at centre-half.
Another debutant was left-back Matt Hubbard who gave away the late penalty scored by Portchester’s Elliot Ward but, by then, the job was done and dusted.
Jarvis turned in Mike Turvey’s cross from an acute angle to open the scoring and, after Ryan Long had had a shot tipped round the post, Barron struck twice in quick succession to make it 3-0 at the break.
First the skipper smashed the ball home after letting Matt Graham’s delivery run across his body and then he volleyed one from 30 yards into the top corner – his sixth goal in six games.
Jarvis got the fourth, collecting a skewed kick by ’keeper Luke Hutchings and lobbing him from 40 yards.
“It was nice to get back to winning ways after an unacceptable performance against Lymington Town (a 2-0 home defeat) in the league,” said Bowers.
“People have said to me we can rest a few against Ringwood tonight, but we can’t – not with a big carrot called Eastleigh dangling!”
Next up for Follands in the FA Cup is a September 13 trip to Bristol-based Longwell Green Sports, who crushed Fareham Town 3-0 at Cams Alders through James Pearce (2) and Justin Bishop.
“They’ve got to be half decent because Fareham are no mugs at home,” warned Bowers.