Portsmouth ready to test youngsters in season opener

Harrison Pocock. 'Picture: David Brawn
Harrison Pocock. 'Picture: David Brawn

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City of Portsmouth face a tough start in their Southern Athletics League opener tomorrow.

A number of strong teams will be in action at the Mountbatten Centre – looking to get the season up and running in style.

Hosts City will take on champions Brighton & Hove, as well as last season’s runners-up Southampton.

Newly-promoted Crawley, who won division two south last season, complete the line-up for the men’s and women’s combined competition opener.

City’s men’s manager Paul Farres is expecting a difficult test tomorrow.

But he is using the match to blood some up-and-coming youngsters.

He said: ‘It is going to be an extremely hard match for us.

‘Brighton, Southampton and Crawley are probably the three best clubs around.

‘We’re intending to use the Southern League to bring on our younger athletes.

‘We’ve got three or four really good under-20 athletes coming through.

‘It will be an early season tester to see where we are.’

Under-20 athletes Tom Farres (pole vault), Harrison Pocock (400m), Charlie Craddock (400m) and long distance duo Matt Smith and Tom MacSwayne will all be in action.

Under-17 athlete Luke Younghusband will run in the 200m.

Stalwart multi-eventer Adam Akehurst will bring his experience and versatility to boost the ranks.

Farres outlined his goal for the season and said: ‘We’re hoping to stay up in this division.’

The new-look women’s team will feature under-17 youngsters Elizabeth Hedley (800m), Elizabeth Rose (3000m), Louise Lockyer (steeplechase), Emma Shaw (all-rounder), Abi McCanna (4x400m relay) and Bobbie Davies (100m, 400m, high jump and 4x400m relay).

Gaia Osborne competes in the senior shotput for the first time, while Katy Watts returns to the club in the long jump, 4x100m relay and javelin.

Havant begin their new season with a trip to Braunton in North Devon in division three south west.