‘You have to have that will and desire … you need the right mindset’ – Baffins Milton Rovers boss Shaun Wilkinson after latest Wessex League defeat

Shaun Wilkinson believes some of his Baffins Milton Rovers would benefit from a change in ‘mindset’ as their dismal Wessex Premier League run continues.

By Simon Carter
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 1:42 pm
Baffins manager Shaun Wilkinson, second left. 
Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Baffins manager Shaun Wilkinson, second left. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Two late goals gave Alton a 2-0 victory at the PMC Stadium and dumped Rovers down to eighth place - the lowest position of the league season.

AFC Portchester jumped above them on Saturday after a stunning 5-1 romp at Shaftesbury, with Moneyfields only six points behind with a game in hand. And Baffins still have to play leaders Hamworthy and play-off chasing Shaftesbury in their remaining four fixtures.

Baffins were challenging for the title after winning 17 of their opening 23 Premier games. But now they have won just twice - losing eight - of their last 13 fixtures.

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Their latest result was accompanied by a ‘typical end of season’ performance which further frustrated Wilkinson.

‘It was a poor game, a boring game - I felt sorry for the people who paid to watch it,’ he said.

‘We had enough chances to win it, but we didn’t work their keeper enough. We didn’t do enough to win the game.

‘We weren’t really that much different from the previous week (3-0 win at Blackfield & Langley), we just took our chances there.’

Baffins’ poor run has given Wilkinson much ‘food for thought’ as he plots the make-up of next season’s squad.

‘Ability wise, some of these lads can play at a higher level, but the reason they aren’t is consistency.

‘You have to have the right mindset.

‘The fact we’ve fallen away isn’t an ability thing, it’s a workrate thing. You have to have that will and desire. Defeats have got to hurt.

‘It’s easy for players to switch off after a game and go to the pub, but as a manager it affects you all week.’

Wilkinson is also annoyed that some of his squad play in the City of Portsmouth Sunday League. He is not alone in that respect, other PO postcode Wessex rivals also having players who also turn out in two games most weekends.

‘There’s three or four,’ said Wilkinson. ‘I can’t stop them, though I fine them a week’s wages if I find out.

‘There’s players who are capable of playing higher, but are wasting their talent.

‘I love my players to bits, but they have to want to do it for themselves. There’s only so much you can tell them.

‘I’m not saying this for me; it’s for them.

‘There’s talk (at this time of the year) about playing for places next season, but every game should be like that.

‘You should always want to put in good effort, to progress.

‘Every football club should want to progress. I think we’ve progressed this season, but next season I want to progress more and I’ll need players who can take us there.’

Baffins host a Shaftesbury side on Wednesday who will be smarting from their stunning home loss to Portchester.

The north Dorset club’s title chances are now virtually over, but they are involved in the race for the one play-off place.

They trail Bashley by four points with four games remaining, but have a far superior goal difference.