The 'big loss' to Horndean as they attempt to ensure Wessex Premier season does not end with a whimper - starting with long trip to Portland

Horndean assistant manager Jason Mann admitted the absence of chief Michael Birmingham in their previous two defeats has been a 'big loss'.

By Lewis Mason
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 5:18 pm
Horndean fear they could be without captain Ash Howes for the remainder of the season after he sustained a hip flexor injury Picture: Keith Woodland
Horndean fear they could be without captain Ash Howes for the remainder of the season after he sustained a hip flexor injury Picture: Keith Woodland

But the Deans' number two refused to put Birmingham's current stadium ban down as the reason behind their recent slump in form.

Horndean have slipped down to fifth in the table after a run of three consecutive losses to Hamworthy, struggling Hythe & Dibden and Shaftesbury respectively.

The Deans had been right in the running for the title or at least a top-two finish throughout the course of the Wessex League Premier Division campaign prior to the dip in results.

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Yet having failed to pick up a single point from the previous nine available to them, they are now some six points off second-placed Bashley having played a game more with only four fixtures left.

Horndean's defeats on the road at Hamworthy and Hythe have coincided with the three-match stadium ban handed to boss Birmingham, who serves the final game of his suspension when his troops travel to Portland on Saturday.

Although admitting the squad have missed big influence Birmingham has from the sidelines on match-days, Mann says performances simply haven't been good enough and the squad must pick themselves to ensure they don't end the campaign with a serious bump.

‘From the position we were in after Christmas - we've not picked up enough points - it's not just the past two or three games, we've not picked up enough points and that's what's happened,’ admitted the Horndean assistant boss.

‘He's obviously a loss (Mike Birmingham), not having him there. Obviously I've been there with him all the time and the structures he gives are the same that I give.

‘He's a massive person there, he knows that, not having him on the sideline is definitely a loss for us. He knows that and he knows he's got to get better in not getting involved with the officials.

‘It's a little bit disappointing (recent run), we're a young side, we were always up there to be shot at and we've just come a little bit short.

‘We've got to regroup, go again, that's what we're trying to do in our final four games - try to regroup for next season ready to go again.’

Mann revealed captain Ash Howes could miss the remainder of the season with a hip flexor issue, while Luke Dempsey serves the second of his three-match suspension following his red card in the defeat to Shaftesbury earlier this month.