Portchester must not miss the boat

AFC Portchester and Newport IOW in battle on Saturday
AFC Portchester and Newport IOW in battle on Saturday
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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AFC PORTCHESTER are desperate not to miss the boat this time around as they head for Newport IOW in the FA Cup tonight (7.45pm).

The two sides fought out a 2-2 draw at Wicor Mill on Saturday, leaving Glen Bridgman’s Wessex League division one side Portchester facing a replay at premier division Newport’s St George’s Park ground.

And the visitors are determined to avoid the travel chaos they experienced last season when crossing the Solent to lose at Newport in the Hampshire Senior Cup.

‘Four players missed the boat and the connections to the ground last season against Newport,’ said chairman Mark Greenham.

‘It was a nightmare and we had to arrange extra transport to get them there just before kick-off.

‘The preparation wasn’t ideal because it meant they missed the warm-up.

‘It is never ideal having to go over to the Isle of Wight midweek because of the players’ work commitments

‘Not all of them work locally and have to get back in time to catch the 6pm hovercraft.

‘Hopefully the FA Cup will have a bigger profile and employers will be a bit more sympathetic.

‘Even then, only one of the Seacat hydrofoils is operating, which means it is only an hourly service for getting back.

‘Organising it all has been a logistical nightmare.’

Greenham missed the first game as he was travelling back from Bulgaria where he had watched England win their World Cup qualifier.

Manager Bridgman made it pretty clear that he felt Portchester should have won the game.

He also believed his men were denied a penalty at the death.

Bridgman said: ‘It was a blatant handball but we have to get on with it.

‘We have nothing to lose and will be going over there with the same attacking intentions to win the game.

‘If we didn’t think we could win we wouldn’t bother turning up.

‘Travelling over to the island in midweek is never easy and I don’t think Newport should be allowed in the league.

‘The players don’t get back until the early hours of the morning and they all have to be at work first thing the next day.’

The visitors are missing three players.

Mark Collis and Darel Clark on holiday, while Kev Pottage has picked up a hamstring injury.

Bridgman is boosted, however, by the return of Lee Bedden on the flank.