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Bash Boost Defensive Options

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Frank Gray, manager of Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division club Bashley, has strengthened his defensive……

…..options this week with the signing of ex-AFC Bournemouth centre half Tim Stephenson.

Released by the Cherries after a spate of injuries, the 21-year-old has been out of the game since January, but impressed Gray in recent reserve matches and is in line to be involved in this weekend’s home match with Bideford.

The Bash chief has been actively looking for fresh faces following Tuesday’s 3-0 reverse at Wimborne Town in the Red Insure League Cup.

Despite being ravaged by illness and unavailability, this latest defeat means Bashley have been knocked out of all four cups at the first attempt this season, three of those exits coming against lower league opposition.

And with just three league victories to show for a stuttering start to the campaign, Gray has vowed to ring the changes, starting with Stephenson’s arrival. “Tim comes in with a good pedigree. We’ve looked at him in reserve matches and he’s signed first-team forms. He’s a big, strong lad who put his head in and win things for us.

“We didn’t play particularly well at Wimborne and lost a couple of soft goals. There were some good patches but we didn’t play well enough to win the game.

“Over the next few weeks there will be more new faces, but it is not just a case of getting people in, the right players have to become available and to get anyone in we have to move players out.”

Saturday’s opponents Bideford, promoted from the Southern Division One South & West last season, have found points hard to come by in their first season at this level, sitting second-bottom of the table, two points and two places below Bashley. But despite both sides struggling, Gray talked down the prospect of this being a ‘must-win’ game this weekend, adding: “While we want to get three points, we must treat it like any other game.

“There is no more pressure on this game and it is no different to any other, we want to win every game and we want to win this one to get back on track.”

Along with Stephenson, Gray will have Gary Middleton back from a bout of flu while Mark Gamble, Matt Finlay and Reading loanees Stuart Moore and Andrew Jenkinson will all be in contention. Midfielder Liam Green is still injured.

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