SHOLING pulled in the fans but couldn’t thrill them with goals at the Universal Stadium on Saturday.

A gate of 288 took advantage of free entry for the Sydenhams Premier Division visit of Fareham Town.

But, disappointingly for the Boatmen, an unremarkable match petered out into a 0-0 draw.

It didn’t help that Sholing were missing seven key players with TJ Cuthbertson and Alex Sawyer injured, Marvin McLean, Pete Castle and Lee Wort suspended and Kevin Brewster and Dan Miller unavailable.

Defender Duncan Brown stepped in for his league debut but, with the development side in action at Hamble Club and already giving up several players to the first team, striker Dan Mason was forced to play with a protective cast after breaking his hand in the FA Vase win a Highworth Town.

To make matters worse, Sholing had Jamie Bulpitt sent off for a second bookable offence – their fifth red card of the season.

Having been booked earlier for dissent, the battling midfielder reacted to a coming-together with Fareham's George Davis, who was also shown a yellow.

But it was the ten men of Sholing who came closest to a breakthrough when Jean-Luc Ramdin hit the bar.

Sholing boss Dave Diaper reflected: “This was very unlike us. We were flat, lethargic and not at our best.

“Making so many changes was far from ideal and that was reflected in the team performance.

"We had chances to win the game and I thought we started quite well, but a draw was probably fair in the end.

“We hit the bar and their 'keeper (Del Harding) has made some good saves, but they were dangerous on the counter-attack and at half-time we talked about not getting caught out.

“Having won eight in a row, it’s disappointing, particularly on a day when we’re allowing people in for free.

"But if you can’t get three points it’s important to get one - and we haven’t lost, so that’s the only positive.”

Fareham were also depleted and manager Pete Stiles felt it was "a big feather in our cap" to stop Sholing scoring.

Diaper's third-placed Boatmen now move on to a Halloween home game against Hamworthy United (Tuesday, 7.45pm), while mid-table Fareham host league leaders Andover Town.