Horndean have player sent-off and two others sin-binned leaving them down to just NINE-MEN on two separate occasions in damaging Shaftesbury defeat

Horndean manager Michael Birmingham could not have been prouder of his players - despite seeing his side suffer a 3-2 Wessex League Premier defeat to Shaftesbury at Five Heads Park.

By Lewis Mason
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 5:10 pm

The Deans were up against it with Luke Dempsey receiving a straight red card for an early alleged 'headbutt' after only 14 minutes, while both Rob Taw and leading scorer Connor Duffin were sin-binned leaving the hosts down to nine-men briefly in both halves.

For Horndean, it proved a damaging defeat as they dropped from second to fourth in the table with Shaftesbury moving up to the position below leaders Hamworthy and Bashley climbing into third spot after seeing off US Portsmouth.

But given the predicaments his troops were faced with throughout, Horndean boss Birmingham's outlook on the showing remained positive.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Horndean's leading scorer Connor Duffin netted and was sin-binned in the defeat to Shaftesbury Picture: Neil Marshall

‘My boys were amazing second-half, they gave me everything, I'm never going to question (them). Maybe a little bit of tiredness came into it then about us wanting to step out,’ said the Deans boss.

‘Every mistake we made, we were punished, and we did not make a lot of mistakes. They're (Shaftesbury) ruthless in front of goal, fair play to them.

‘To play 88 minutes with not 11 men - take away the errors because there were errors from us - but we still asked enough questions but couldn't quite get enough to get us over the line and get a draw. But I cannot fault my lads' effort, desire, work-rate and attitude in the second half.

‘I've got nothing but pride for how my players for how they carried on (despite early sending off and sin-bins).’

Horndean protest after an early first-half penalty is awarded against them Picture: Neil Marshall

An action-packed afternoon began with former Pompey prospect goalkeeper Leon Pitman saving from Greg Peel after giving away a penalty on three minutes.

The delight from Pitman's spot-kick save was quickly dampened, though, with defender Rob Taw sin-binned just a minute later.

Things remained eventful as Dempsey was shown a straight red card for an alleged 'headbutt' on 14 minutes - leaving Horndean briefly down to nine players with Taw still in the sin-bin.

Zak Willett was then hauled off three minutes later having picked up an early booking himself before Luke Burbridge crashed Shaftesbury ahead after 24 minutes.

Things get heated in Horndean's defeat to Shaftesbury Picture: Neil Marshall

Then, to compound a forgettable first-half, captain Ash Howes was forced off and replaced by Tommy Tierney on the stroke of half-time - with the latter then taken off at the interval in place of Karol Scoczen after rolling his ankle.

Surely things could only get better for the Deans and they briefly did when Duffin was left unmarked to head the hosts level seven minutes after the restart.

Yet two goals in the in a 10-minute spell soon after from Billy Maybury and Asa Phillips seemed to have put the game beyond Horndean with 24 minutes of normal time left on the clock.

Remarkably, Duffin was then sin-binned after 72 minutes to leave the Deans down to nine-men once more. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Harry Jackson fired home to give Birmingham's side a glimmer of hope on 82 minutes but their best efforts were in vain as they were unable to find what would have been an unlikely leveller.