Horndean ring changes for Russell Cotes Cup tie against Sholing they ‘could do without’
Horndean boss Michael Birmingham is ringing the changes for a cup tie ‘we could really do without.’
Birmingham is not taking a single member of last weekend’s Wessex starting XI against Portland to Southampton for Thursday night's Russell Cotes Cup tie against holders Sholing.
Lee Tigwell, Greg Peel and Harry Jackson - subs against Portland - will be joined by Conner Grant, who has six first team starts in 2019/20, at the Universal Stadium. The rest of the visiting squad will be reserve and fringe players.
‘I am sure (Sholing boss) Dave Diaper thinks the same way I do,’ said Birmingham.
‘It’s ridiculous having to play a cup tie on a Thursday before a league game on a Saturday.
‘Sholing will play Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday this week - Pep Guardiola moans about his fixture list and yet his players are all multi-millionaire full-timers.’
Horndean travel to US Portsmouth next Tuesday for a Portsmouth Senior Cup quarter final, and Birmingham won’t be taking any first team regulars to the Victory Stadium either.
‘I can see the benefits of these cups,’ he said. ‘It’s a great opportunity for some players to impress against good opposition.
‘At least I have a reserve team I can pick from. At training on Tuesday night I only had 11 players - there were seven on the treatment table.’
Horndean could tonight come up against the two strikers who boasted the most prolific partnership in English non-league football last season.
Dan Mason and Lee Wort scored an astonishing 114 goals between them in 2019/20 as Sholing cantered to the Wessex League Premier Division title.
They won by a staggering 31-point margin from runners-up Horndean, and for good measure also won the Russell Cotes Cup.
Mason belted 64 goals in all competitions and strike partner Wort, the former Gosport Borough attacker, weighed in with 50.
The pair were no one-season wonders either - during the 2017/18 Wessex season they shared 60 goals (Mason 32, Wort 28) in all competitions and they bagged 64 the season before (Mason 45, Wort 19).
Mason and Wort were both on target in last weekend’s 6-1 win over rock bottom Basingstoke - taking their seasonal tallies to 13 and five respectively.
But Wort only returned to Sholing in October, having missed the first few months of the season to go travelling.
Mason was one of a host of first teamers rested for Tuesday’s 4-0 Southern League Cup loss at Winchester, while Wort started.
Former Gosport Borough and Petersfield Town striker Oli Bailey scored Winchester’s first two goals.