Pitch challenge for Pompey

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey will be challenged to perform on an artificial pitch for their next pre-season test.

But Sutton United boss Paul Doswell insists the playing surface should not be feared.

The U’s topped National League South last season to take their place in the National League for the approaching campaign.

They will do so with ex-Pompey triallist Roarie Deacon among their ranks, this week signing having also turned out for Cambridge United in pre-season.

Intriguingly, Paul Cook’s men must face the hosts on a 3G pitch in tomorrow’s friendly (3pm).

Sutton installed the artificial turf in the summer of 2015, following the league’s relaxation on regulations.

The most recent occasion Pompey have played on 3G was in July 2012 against Gibraltar at the Victoria Stadium, losing 4-0.

And Doswell, a former manager of Eastleigh, insists introducing the Gander Green Lane playing surface has proven an excellent decision.

He said: ‘We’ve had rave reviews about the playing surface and, in June, England C played Slovakia on it.

‘It has turned the club from a once-a-fortnight organisation into a 24/7 operation – with 27 teams training on the pitch, along with AFC Wimbledon Ladies and Sutton Common Rovers.

‘From April to May there were 35 cup finals held at the ground.

‘The surface has turned us into a community hub where youngsters can play rather than traipsing around the borough.

‘It looks like grass and plays like grass and is the future. Once approved by the Football League, I can see many clubs from League One downwards installing it.

‘There is a huge rubber shock pad underneath which ensures it is better for knees and ankles than any other surface, including grass.

‘It’s like the carpet in your front room, while the bounce is true and you can slide tackle on it. As we all know, some grass surfaces in the winter are awful.

‘And we are looking forward to hosting Pompey in front of what we are expecting to be a really good crowd.’

As part of the fixture, Sutton have offered to donate 10 per cent of away end gate receipts to the fund of Andrew ‘Pepe’ Bache, who recently suffered horrific injuries in France.

A bucket collection is also planned as the hosts seek to lend a hand.

Doswell added: ‘We heard what happened and the board decided to try to help, after all we are all part of the football family.

‘The teams will also be playing for the Andrew Letts Trophy, with a penalty shoot-out if there is a draw.’