Rovers head to newly-crowned champions Hamworthy United with the odds firmly stacked against them.
Not only have Baffins lost 10 of their last 15 Premier fixtures, but the Hammers have not lost a league game at home since January 2020!
Incredibly, Tim Sills’ men have won 26 of their last 29 Wessex games on home (artificial) turf, drawing the other three, since a 3-1 home loss to Fleet Town two months before the first national lockdown was imposed.
During that time they have scored 90 goals and conceded a paltry 15. Averaging almost three goals a game, they have only conceded one every 202 (and a half) minutes during that astonishing run. They have only conceded eight goals in 18 home league games in 2021/22 – a stunning record at any level.
With Shaun Wilkinson away working, the short straw of taking charge of Baffins - and the champions away on a Tuesday, a near 120-mile round trip from Portsmouth to the Poole area, is very short indeed - goes to assistant manager Danny Thompson.
‘It’s hard enough to go to Hamworthy at any time, let alone on a Tuesday,’ he said.
Thompson has won all his games in charge this season when Wilkinson has been unavailable, but he knows the chances of extending that record appear slim.
‘We’ll go there and give it our best shot,’ he declared. ‘They might be a little bit hungover after winning the league (at Portchester last Saturday). They might make a few changes.
‘We’re under no pressure - it’s a free hit.
‘It would have been nicer to be going to US or Moneyfields, but it is what it is. I would happily take a point if anyone offered me one.
‘Let’s just get the last two games out of the way and regroup for next season.
‘I’ve never known a season like this one. We were excellent until January, but we’ve capitulated since. The results have been chalk and cheese.
‘We should have done better with the group we’ve got, but we haven’t - you’ve got to take that on the chin.’
Including cup ties, Hamworthy have won 41, drawn three and lost just one of their last 45 matches on home turf. And, technically, the one they lost - this season’s Dorset Senior Cup final against two tiers higher Poole Town - wasn’t a ‘proper’ home game. Their HQ is also the home of the Dorset FA, hence the final was being played there.
Baffins, though, remain the only side to have beaten Hamworthy in 38 Wessex games this season. That was a 2-1 home win on December 4. Since then, the Hammers have played 19 league games, winning 15 and drawing four. They have won 10 of their last 11 Wessex fixtures. Baffins, in contrast, have nine points from a possible 45.
If Hamworthy win their final two fixtures – they host Fareham Town on Saturday – they will finish on 99 points.