FA CUP Preliminary round
TWO-goal Daniel Mason fired Sholing into the FA first qualifying round at the Silverlake Arena yesterday, ending a three-match losing streak for the Boatmen.
After a trio Southern One South & West losses, Sholing roused themselves to see off Western Premier high-fliers Bristol Manor Farm 3-1.
Mason, who returned to the ranks from Folland Sports during the summer, sandwiched first and second-half strikes between a sizzling 25-yarder from Nick Watts.
But Manor Farm were no pushovers, having a Billy Downes penalty saved by man-of-the-match Matt Brown early in the second half with the Boatmen 2-0 up and bagging a Ryan Radford consolation late on.
“It was a little bit laboured, but it gave us a bit of a break from the league,” said co-boss Dave Fear.
“Bristol Manor Farm are not a bad side going forward and they tried to force and push it in the last 20 minutes, a bit like Yate did in the league here, but it opened the game up and in the end we could have won four or five-one.”
Sholing played a new formation in a bid to turn their ailing form around.
Ex-Saints trainee Mike Byrne, who had gone to get match fit at Alresford, joined young Dan Miller in central defence with Stuart Mott positioned just in front in a midfield holding role.
Skipper Byron Mason patrolled central midfield, flanked by Marvin McLean and brother Barry, while Nick Watts floated around behind frontman Daniel Mason.
Explaining Byrne’s return, Fear said: “He signed for us early doors in the summer, but then went on holiday. He was still training with us but we let him go to Alresford to get games.
“We also had (left-back) Sam Oloafe back from injury and, with Wattsy working well off the frontman, we looked very positive going forward.”
Sholing still have absentees, however, with Jack Smith and Lewis Fennemore injured, Alex Baldacchino breaking down in training and Alex Sawyer sidelined by a virus. The good news though is that central defensive kingpin Pete Castle took part in his first light training session since knee surgery.
The Boatmen – now home to Southern Premier outfit Chippenham Town in the first qualifying round on September 13 - have a free midweek before Saturday’s long league trip to fourth-placed Merthyr Town.
*Last season’s Sydenhams League top gun Warren Bentley netted both goals as Winchester City triumphed 2-0 at Southern One South & West strugglers Bashley. They now host the winners of tomorrow’s all-Wessex replay between Bemerton HH and Bournemouth Poppies, who drew 0-0.
* More FA Cup/Wessex League news and reaction in tomorrow’s Echo.