Ash Howes (Horndean, red) in action during his side’s home loss to Hamworthy earlier this season. The second leg takes place in Dorset this Saturday. Photo: Martyn White

Birmingham were punished by the Hampshire FA after being sent off at the end of last month’s league defeat at Blackfield.

He missed Tuesday’s shock 2-1 loss to Hythe & Dibden and will also miss the long trip to Portland on March 26.

“I was kicked out for telling the truth,” Birmingham said. “Football is the only sport where that can happen.”

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He is the second local Wessex Premier manager to be banned from the stadium for three games in recent weeks, following Moneyfields’ Glenn Turnbull.

Horndean travel to Hamworthy following back-to-back defeats to Shaftesbury and Hythe which have drastically dented their hopes of finishing in the top two.

The Deans are seven points behind the Hammers and two behind second-placed Shaftesbury, having played two more games than the top two.

Birmingham watched a video of Hythe’s defeat. “The three points seemed to mean more to Hythe trying to avoid relegation than to Horndean closing the gap to the top boys,” was his verdict.

“Our egos will be bruised, our egos will be chipped and the teams will laugh at us. Now we have the other extreme by going for a Hamworthy team that will win the league and deservedly so.

“They don’t win games by fives or sixes because they don’t need to, they don’t concede a lot of goals. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking to know that if you keep clean sheets, you’ll end up with more points.

“We are scoring goals at the moment, but we are also conceding and not winning any.”

Birmingham are delighted Hamworthy is continuing to carry the Wessex League flag, having reached the FA Vase semi-finals.

They are trying to become the fourth WL club to win silverware after Wimborne (1992), Winchester (2004) and Sholing (2014). Additionally, AFC Totton reached the 2007 final.

Birmingham said: “I’ve heard people say they want Hamworthy to lose in the Vase semi-final. I can’t understand that. Are you really that jealous? If you think you shouldn’t be in football.

“Hopefully they get to the final and play Littlehampton.”

Horndean is aiming to inflict Hamworthy’s first home league defeat this season.

Tim Sills’ side have a superb County Ground record in 2021/22 with 14 league wins and two draws, scoring 50 goals and conceding just six.

The Hammers have lost just one of their 33 league games so far and are 14 unbeaten since a 2-1 loss at Baffins in December. That run includes a 2-1 win at Horndean in January.

Meanwhile, Birmingham are already tipping AFC Portchester to win the Wessex League title next season.

The Royals have won 10 of their last 16 league games and Birmingham said: “When Sholing clinched the title (in 2018/19) they finished the previous season well and just kept that momentum going.

‘Portchester can do the same. If I were the Wessex League I’d take the trophy to the engravers and save myself a round trip by asking ‘Hamworthy’ this year and ‘Portchester’ next year!

Birmingham knows its Wessex history. Sholing won seven of their last eight games in 2017/18, drawing the other, before claiming the title the following season by a staggering 31 point margin.

‘Dave (Carter, Portchester boss) hasn’t pressed the panic button this season, he’s taken his time and added strength from depth. He has the confidence of his players and they play for him.

Horndean will have to make at least one change this weekend as centre-half Luke Dempsey begins a three-game ban following his red card for violent conduct against Shaftesbury.

Birmingham said: “I can’t comment. I’ve been in trouble for my comments at Blackfield before. If you want a comment on the referee (against Shaftesbury) I’ll just say ‘no comment’.’