SHOLING manager Dave Diaper believes that the local tussle for promotion is “great for the area” – but the legendary Boatmen boss is calling upon his charges to focus on their selves, rather than their rivals.

The Boatmen leapfrogged near neighbours Totton in the Southern League Division One South after narrowly beating them 2-1 on Tuesday night, whilst just up the road Winchester City remain in the mix for promotion as well.

Whilst two sides further into the West County occupy the top two spots, Cirencester and Frome, the three Hampshire sides fill up the remaining three play-off spots.

Sholing now sit third in the league, a point above Totton in fourth, with Winchester making up the playoff picture in fifth.

Speaking about the added factor of local rivalries to the promotion race, Diaper told the Daily Echo: “We focus on ourselves, but it's great for the area to be honest, to have three sides in contention, so to speak.

“I think (on Tuesday), it was our third game in six weeks. We’ve had so many postponements and it’s very difficult getting the momentum.

“I was really pleased with that (win against Totton) because it's nothing like playing - you can train as much as you want, but if you stop playing football through games called off, obviously it has an effect.

“So I've had opportunities to go and watch Frome Town and Winchester – I’ve seen Winchester play against Plymouth Parkway as well.

“It's going to be a great opportunity to have a look at opposition and plan ahead, so to speak.”

Sholing came from a goal behind in the win over Totton, with Stu Green equalising minutes after Ethan Taylor had opened the scores for the Stags.

When asked how important it was that his side equalised as soon as possible, Diaper responded: “I think the timing of it was just right because if it went on any be further, they would have got to maybe control the game. But I was really pleased with the response.

“That was the main thing - I thought it was a bit of a scrappy game to be honest - not much skill.

“Both sides are a lot better than what they showed to be honest. But I'm really pleased for our players because obviously they showed a lot of heart and passion.”

The game was decided 13 minutes from time when Dan Mason stepped up and thumped a free-kick past Totton ‘keeper Lewis Noice.

Diaper revealed: “We've been trying to get Dan (Mason) to take strikes like that, free kicks particularly, maybe he’ll start doing them now because of the self-belief at free-kicks after seeing that one, he should take them more often. That's without a doubt.”

The Boatmen take on league leaders Cirencester this weekend, and whilst they are currently eight points behind the Centurions, they do enjoy three games in hand over the Gloucestershire side.