Poppies look ahead to Senior Cup clash with new-found ‘rivals’ Bashley
The two sides, flying high in the Wessex Premier Division, meet at Bashley Road with a place in the semi-finals of another domestic competition at stake.
In an already action-packed campaign, it is Poppies who have overcome their opponents during the two meetings since the start of the season.
An August FA Cup extra-preliminary clash saw the visitors’ battling showing result in a 2-0 victory. Early goals from strike partners Steve Flynn and Mickey Finch, both unmarked headers from close range, rounded off a successful away day for Poppies – who would later exit the competition at the hands of Winchester City.
Bashley were once again the hosts in a Hampshire Senior Cup match-up, where Poppies once again departed Hampshire with a spot secured in the next round.
Flynn once again broke the home side’s resistance seven minutes before half-time, another towering header that flew beyond goalkeeper Kieran Burgess. Ron Frost then saw a fine spot-kick well denied by Burgess, before the home side hit back with a quickfire double.
Harry Morgan and Dan Munday fired the home side back in front, visibly deflating Michael Cuffie’s visitors. But deep into additional time, a long punt downfield from Sam Jones fell kindly to Finch, who prodded into the far corner to rescue a last-gasp penalty shootout for Poppies to decide who would progress.
Eight perfect penalties were then coolly converted before Jones denied Bashley’s decider, sending Poppies into the next round.
Teams news for the Winton-based outfit is promising – Flynn and Finch will return to Hampshire in scintillating form, with Poppies notably more incisive with the two strikers back from suspension and tearing sides apart.
Manager Michael Cuffie will also have welcome selection dilemmas in defence and midfield, with a squad bustling with players wanting to perform. Tom Wensley, Joseph Huston-Mendy and Mihail Visititu, who all made their debuts in the mid-week defeat against Horndean, may all be in contention.
Bashley welcome back fully-fit hitman Munday, who has found the back of the net on ten different occasions this campaign. The striker was introduced off the bench in the Bash’s clash this weekend, and he duly tucked home the winner from the penalty spot to wrap up a tightly-fought encounter with Shaftesbury.
Tomorrow’s meeting promises to be an end-to-end affair, as two prolific outfits meet at Bashley Road. The two clubs were scheduled to do battle at the start of the month, but the visit was postponed after an injury crisis crippled Paul Morris’ squad.
With both sides’ strong start to domestic action in the Wessex Premier, both Poppies and Bashley will harbour ambitions of lifting silverware this campaign.
Kick off at Bashley Road is 7:45pm.
✍ Dan Davis @dan_davis20 / 📷 Giancarlo Bocchetti @gianbocch23