‘What way do we want our season to go now? Do we want to kick on or do we let it fall away?’- Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson after stunning Wessex League loss against Fareham

Shaun Wilkinson has challenged his Baffins Milton Rovers team to show character in the wake of a remarkable midweek defeat.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 1:34 pm
Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Baffins would have deposed Horndean as Wessex League Premier Division leaders had they beaten mid-table Fareham Town on Wednesday.

As it was, they led 4-3 with 12 minutes to go - only to end up losing a pulsating encounter 5-4 to remain in third place.

It was the second time in two days a team had failed to take an opportunity to go top - Hamworthy having been held 0-0 at Alton on Tuesday.

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‘We need a reaction now,’ stated Wilkinson after Baffins had followed up draws with Christchurch and US Portsmouth with their first league loss since November 13.

‘We need bigger characters, better characters.

‘What way do we want our season to go now? Do we want to kick on or do we let the season fall away?’

Wilkinson added: ‘That was only our fourth defeat in the league so we’re not out of it, the wheels haven’t come off.

‘But it is concerning that we’ve dropped seven points out of nine to teams I would expect us to be beating.

‘I’ve said to the players we’re now a target for other teams because we’re at the top.

‘Teams will want to beat us. Fareham raised their game against us, as I knew they would.

‘Fareham were playing with no pressure. They were almost laughing on the sidelines. It was like a group of matches having a kickaround, no pressure.

‘We have to raise the bar again. We need to be better than we were in the first half of the season - equalling it won’t be enough.’

Baffins began the season with six clean sheets in their first eight league games. But they have only kept two in their last 15 Wessex fixtures.

‘The team that will win this league will probably keep the fewest clean sheets - that’s what I’ve learnt so far,’ said Wilkinson.

‘Hamworthy will probably win the league because of the goals they don’t concede. They are a solid side - their mentality is defence first.

‘You won’t see them conceding five goals in a game. If the ball is there to be cleared, they clear it.’

The stats bear that out. While Baffins have conceded 33 goals in their 26 league games, the Hammers have only let in 16 from one fewer match.

Wilkinson is now looking to bolster his defensive options after left-back Charlie Williamson hobbled off against Fareham. He will be sidelined for a few weeks and the manager said: ‘I need to get someone in - we’ve been light on numbers at the back all season.’

Baffins aim to return to winning ways at Portland this Saturday, their longest journey of the season.