Boss Shaun Wilkinson's Baffins Milton Rovers clear-out as he places trust in club's promising youth prospects... High-flying Horndean and Brockenhurst gearing up for swift reverse league meeting

Shaun Wilkinson vowed to place his faith in Baffins Milton Rovers' exciting youth prospects - after conducting a squad clear-out.

By Lewis Mason
Friday, 4th March 2022, 8:24 am

The Baffins boss has waved goodbye to the quartet of Ellis Martin, George Britton, experienced striker Craig McAllister and dual-signed Hawks goalkeeper Charlie Searle, having seen his side drop to seventh in the table after a wretched run of six defeats in their past seven matches.

Wilkinson used a behind-closed-doors friendly at US Portsmouth’s Victory Stadium against the Royal Navy on Monday night to run the rule over a number of his exciting under-18s players.

And with four players now moved on from Baffins, Wilkinson has no qualms about giving youth a chance in his side's final eight games of the season, which starts at in-form Wessex League Premier Division rivals Bashley on Saturday.

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Craig McAllister is one of four players who have left Baffins Milton Rovers Picture: Martyn White

Wilkinson said: ‘We’re just trimming it up a little bit, we’re going to give (some of) the under-18s a bit of a game. The one thing about the under-18s, they run around and they get stuck in - what they lack in physical strength - they make in their attitudes and their work rate.

‘I probably should have used them a bit more (under-18 players) but our season changed a little bit when we got near the top so we went for more experience. Literally. they’ve got eight games now to stake a claim for a spot in the first-team squad next season.’

Wilkinson says he was particularly impressed with teenagers Owen Pelham, Harvey Wellham, Oscar Deans and goalkeeper Bailey Neil in their friendly earlier in the week - all players who have featured in the first-team over the course of this season.

n Horndean head to fellow Wessex Premier high-fliers Brockenhurst as the clubs lock horns in the league for the second time in as many weeks.

The second-placed Deans were held to a stalemate when Brock visited Five Heads Park last weekend.

Brockenhurst are now preparing to welcome Michael Birmingham's men just eight days since the last battle, with third-placed Brock three points and a place below their opponents in the standings.

Birmingham said: ‘It all depends how you look at it. Are they (Brockenhurst) going to come at us and think they’ve got to get the three points? I don’t think so. I think they’re very patient and they’ll look to hit you on the counter when the ball’s been turned over. They’ll be drilled, they’ll be organised, they’ll be set up and they’ll be very, very resolute.’

Birmingham welcomes back captain Ash Howes for the New Forest trip after he was unavailable when the teams met last weekend.