GE HAMBLE have been dealt a defensive blow ahead of tonight’s Hampshire FA Senior Cup quarter-final at Alresford Town.
Outstanding young centre-half Rhys Evans faces a possible six weeks on the sidelines after rolling his ankle in the early stages of Saturday’s 3-1 Sydenhams Premier win at Horndean.
“I don’t think it’s broken, but there’s possible ligament damage,” said disappointed co-boss Dave Lewis.
“It couldn’t have come at a worse time for us.
“Since Rhys started playing at centre-half we haven’t conceded a league goal and the back four has been functioning really well.
“There was no bad tackle involved, he just rolled his ankle.
“The Hordean pitch was playable, I’ve no complaints about that, but two or three lads went over on it and got away with it. But Rhys wasn’t so lucky and he’s a massive loss for us.”
Hamble are hoping that the experienced Dan Turner will be ready to replace Evans tonight. He has been out for the best part of three months, also with an ankle problem, but made a comeback for the reserves on Saturday.
Midfielder Jamie Barron was Hamble’s two-goal hero at Five Heads Park having himself only recently returned from injury.
The Deans responded to Barron’s opener by forcing two good saves from Hamble keeper Ryan Gosney as Nathan Paxton and Louis Castles searched for a leveller.
But Barron struck again just before the interval, teed up by a fine run and cross from Nick Watts.
It was young substitute Josh Oxlade who made sure of Hamble’s vivtory with a cool finish from six yards before Dan Hayes pulled back a late goal for the Deans.
“When Rhys went off, we moved Craig Shrimpton from right-back to centre-half, Tom Settle from left midfield to right-back and brought on young Josh who did really well on the left of midfield,” said Lewis. “He’s a good player and one for the future.”
Hamble have Lloyd Webber suspended tonight and are still without Joe Bye and Richard Gregory.
With Alresford now heading the Wessex standings, Lewis expects a really tough game at Alrebury Park.
“Alresford are top by right. They’re one of the best teams we’ve played,” he said. “They beat us at our place in the league and they deserved to.
“The biggest compliment I can pay them is that they don’t have one shining light, they’re all really good players.
“You can’t say that if we stop one particular player they won’t score or we’ll cut off their supply from out wide. Alresford have numerous ways to attack and they’ve got resilience too. They’re a good blend of a team.”
“We don’t fear them tonight but, by the same token, we know it’s a difficult call.
“It’s nice for the Wessex that someone will go through to represent the league in the semi-finals and both ourselves and Alresford have already shown we’re capable of beating anyone on our day.”