Royals and Deans set for ‘spicy’ curtain-raiser

AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix, second from right, goes up against former Royals colleague and newly-appointed Horndean manager Michael Birmingham, far right, at Wicor Rec tonight          Pictures: Neil Marshall
AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix, second from right, goes up against former Royals colleague and newly-appointed Horndean manager Michael Birmingham, far right, at Wicor Rec tonight Pictures: Neil Marshall
AFC Portchester boss Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall (170298-18)

Royals told to flex promotion muscle

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AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix admitted tomorrow night’s Wessex League premier division curtain raiser with Horndean has been given ‘extra spice’, as he locks horns with former Royals colleague Michael Birmingham.

Promotion-chasing Portchester welcome the Deans to Wicor Rec (7.45pm) keen to earn early-season bragging rights over their rivals.

And Rix insists confidence is high in the Royals’ camp ahead of the new campaign.

He said: ‘We’re all excited about the coming season, from the chairman right the way through to the kit man.

‘And with the additions we’ve got , I think we’ll be up there.

‘Obviously we want to keep on scoring goals and we also want to keep them out – that’s how simple it is really, it’s not complicated.

‘We’ve got some good players and if we can keep everybody suspension-free, then we’ll be okay.

‘We are looking forward to the opening game.

‘Our youth-team manager of last season has taken over at Horndean, so that adds a bit of spice.

‘It’s a tough game to start with, but a tough game for them as well I’d imagine.’

For Birmingham it’s a swift, if surreal, return to familiar surroundings.

‘You couldn’t write it,’ he said.

‘Is it an ideal opener? Probably not.

‘Portchester have got a fantastic set-up and are ready to go places.

‘They will know, however, that we won’t be going there to roll over and have our bellies tickled.’

The task for Birmingham this term will be to build on the good work carried out by the Deans last time out when they secured an impressive fifth-place finish.

The man who started the season in charge at Five Heads Park – Dave Carter – is now at the helm at Moneyfields and looking forward to this first full campaign at Dover Road.

Moneys host Lymington Town tomorrow night (7.45pm) with Carter happy with his side’s pre-season preparations as he also eyes another crack at the FA Vase.

‘Pre season’s been good,’ he said.

‘Our new signings have settled in very well and have had plenty of games to get settled in.

‘Last season we managed to get to the fourth round of the FA Vase, so hopefully we can push on this year.

‘We are ready to go.’

Fareham Town boss Steve Stone has not been so enthusiastic about his side’s summer break as the Reds host Newport (IoW) tomorrow at Cams Alders (7.30pm).

He said: ‘Pre-season was probably a waste of time if I’m really honest.

‘Unfortunately for the first game of the season we’re going to be a bit tight for a side.

‘As always it’s a fight to get players in and get organised.’

‘Our first priority is survival.’