Rix refusing to give up for derby clash

AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix
AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix
AFC Portchester boss Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall (170298-18)

Royals told to flex promotion muscle

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DERBIES at AFC Portchester and Moneyfields take centre stage in the Wessex League premier division tonight.

The Royals entertain Fareham Town at Wicor Rec knowing it is a must-win game if they are to keep their slim hopes of promotion alive.

Four defeats in the past three weeks have severely dented Portchester’s ambitions but manager Graham Rix is refusing to give up.

‘We have made it difficult for ourselves but must keep going right to the end,’ he said.

‘There is no way that we are going to give up.

‘We know we are more than capable of putting a winning run together between now and the end of the season.

‘Losing at Team Solent was hugely disappointing because again we had a lot of the ball.

‘I can’t fault the effort of the players but we lacked that little bit of quality in the final third.

‘Fareham will be tough because it is a local derby but we have to see it as a chance to kick-start our season.

‘We finished third in the league last season and if we are to at least match that then there is still a lot of work to be done.’

Fareham head into the game in buoyant mood after crushing Alresford Town 4-1 – a result that virtually makes them safe from relegation.

Reds manager Steve Stone, however, accepts that the Royals will be a totally different proposition.

‘Portchester are a quality side and possess players we can only dream about signing,’ said Stone.

‘We won’t be able to be quite so gun-ho as we have been in recent games.

‘It will be a case of staying organised when we don’t have the ball and having to take our chances which may be few and far between.

‘We must stick to our system and maintain the belief.’

Moneyfields host Horndean at Dover Road with both teams looking to pick their game up after disappointing results at the weekend.

Moneyfields manager Dave Carter blamed tiredness for his side’s tame 0-0 draw against Verwood Town.

‘We had a number of players who were dead on their feet,’ he said.

Carter is able to refresh his squad by bringing in Lewis Stockford, Dan Woodward and Conor Bailey.

Horndean produced a flat performance in their 1-1 draw against lowly Fawley and boss Craig Pearce is looking for a reaction.

‘For us it depends on which Horndean team turns up on the night,’ said Pearce.

‘We must regroup and also take greater care of the ball when we have it.’