‘The Baffins of old had heart and desire – we’re a soft touch at the moment’ – boss Shaun Wilkinson after Stoneham extend Rovers’ miserable Wessex League losing streak

Baffins Milton Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson admitted his side are a ‘soft touch’ at the moment after their dismal Wessex League Premier Division run was extended.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 9:50 am
Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson, left. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson, left. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Three weeks after being seven minutes away from taking over top spot, Rovers slumped to a 3-2 home loss to AFC Stoneham last night.

That was their fifth defeat in six league games and they have now taken just five points from a possible 24.

They trail leaders Hamworthy by nine points, having played two games more, and are eight behind second-placed Horndean having played the same amount of matches.

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Duarte Martins was allowed time and space to complete a first-half hat-trick to leave Baffins with the worst defensive record - 44 goals conceded - of any team in the top nine.

‘We didn’t play too badly,’ Wilkinson reckoned. ‘First half we were the better team, some of our possession football was the best we’ve played all season.

‘Football wise, I believe we are the best team in the league by a mile.

‘But it’s the ugly side of the game we’re not very good at. It’s the basics - running around, tackling, blocking.

‘We’ve got to stop giving away cheap, cheap goals. I would love someone to score a really good goal against us.

‘We had a really experienced back five out - Charlie Searle in goal, Jack Williamson, Ed Sanders, Lee Molyneaux and Ellis Martin.

‘We shouldn’t be conceding the goals we have been conceding. Not following runners, no communication - it’s all too easy.

‘We aren’t aggressive enough in defence, we’re not desperate enough to keep a clean sheet.

‘Same with up front - Rudi (Blankson) has got to take his two chances.’

Wilkinson was referring to Blankson - a half-time sub after Craig McAllister went off with a hamstring injury - having Baffins’ best chances of the second period.

First, he sidefooted a shot against James Parker-Trott’s legs when put through one on one, while an injury time effort was fired into the side netting.’

Baffins had replied well to Martins’ second minute opener, leading 2-1 after 20 minutes through McAllister and Harry Sargeant.

But Martins levelled just after the half hour mark, after Molyneaux was forced off with a hamstring pull, and he struck the eventual winner just before the break.

For Stoneham, it was a superb success bearing in mind they were giving debuts to two players – George Ockwell and Isaac Evans – and were forced to play one of their leading scorers, captain Scott Hills, at right back.

As for Baffins, it was a third home league defeat of the campaign, after previous losses to Horndean (3-1) and Fareham (5-4).

‘We shouldn’t have to score four or six goals to win home games,’ declared Wilkinson.

‘Hamworthy will win the league because they’ve only conceded 18 goals.’

Indeed. And while the Hammers have the division’s best defensive record by a street, Baffins have let in 26 more goals than the table-toppers in just two extra fixtures.

‘The Baffins of old - Blu Boam, Shane Cornish, Sam Willett, Danny Rimmer, Jamie White - what they had was heart and desire,’ said Wilkinson.

‘They would never let themselves be bullied. We’re a soft touch at the moment.

‘We’ve taken just five points out of 24. Even if we’d only taken half of those points we’d be top.’