Areas in which Horndean must been firing to ensure surprise against bottom-side Hythe & Dibden is avoided

Michael Birmingham told his Horndean troops to make sure their 'attitude and approach' is right - or face a surprise at the hands of struggling Hythe & Dibden on Saturday.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 12:16 pm
Tommy Tierney is in contention to face Hythe & Dibden after a recent rest. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 100721-27)

The second-placed Deans are one of the Wessex Premier's form teams at present having won their past five league fixtures - winning at rivals Baffins Milton Rovers - in third - last time out.

Next up, they welcome bottom-side Hythe to Five Heads Park, who have lost all 13 of their league matches so far.

However, Birmingham insisted should any of his squad take struggling Hythe lightly they will be in for a shock after showing signs of improvements in previous weeks.

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The Horndean boss said: ‘These are the hardest games to be involved in because people can look at the table and say, ‘it’s a foregone conclusion,’ when it’s not.

‘They’ve got a new manager, they’ve made a few signings, they’ve let go of a lot of players, at the end of the day they’re not going to go the whole season - with the management and players they’ve got - not picking up any results.

‘You’ve got a team fighting for their lives looking to get their first points on the board so we have to make sure, come training tonight, our approach is spot-on, our attitude is spot-on and know we’re fully focused on the game on Saturday, which will not be an easy job in hand.’

Birmingham was in the dugout but handed responsibilities for the evening to under-18s boss Jason Harris, with the entire youth team fielded for Tuesday's penalties Portsmouth Senior Cup first round win over Baffins Milton Rovers.

The Deans boss picked out teenagers Zac Brownlie and Evan Harris, who netted twice in normal time in the shoot-out success - both 17 - and 16-year-old centre-half Tom Blaimire for high praise.

And Birmingham was delighted with how the club's under-18 prospects handled the occasion against Baffins.

He added: ‘Zac Brownlie has been on my bench probably all season and he was excellent again Tuesday (against Baffins), especially second half when Baffins started to get a grip of the game. They were moving the ball well, the young boys were starting to go up the hill - it must have felt like Mount Everest - but he (Zac) was still doing the ugly work, winning the ball and keeping the game simple.

‘I’ve got Evan Harris who scored two goals. He’s out on loan at Selsey at the moment, I felt he needed minutes in men’s football and I think he’s scored four in four at Selsey.

‘Another one who caught my eye, I was keeping an eye on him in pre-season, Tom Blaimire, who is only 16. He was outstanding at centre-half on Tuesday, so there’s three just to mention who played on Tuesday - the three standouts in my opinion.’

Both Tommy Tierney and Sam Emeney are in contention to feature against Hythe having been taking out of the team in recent weeks, while George Burgess could be back from injury.

Midfielder Sam Hookey is a major doubt, with Jack Lee (hamstring) and Harry Jackson both ruled out.