AFC Portchester boss Catlin: I expected some inconsistency with so many new signings
AFC Portchester manager Mick Catlin feels his new-look squad are now starting to find their feet after an inconsistent start.
And the Royals boss is targeting maximum points from the next two Wessex League Premier matches as they bid to ramp up the pressure on the early pacesetters.
Portchester this weekend make the trip to struggling Portland, who've conceded 19 times in their opening four league matches, prior to hosting 17th-placed Hamble Club on Tuesday.
Catlin, whose side sit seventh having won two of their opening three league fixtures, views it as an ideal opportunity to start building some momentum.
But he has warned his players to be wary of a Portland side no doubt hurting after an 8-2 thumping at leaders Fareham Town last time out.
That thrashing came just a fortnight after the Dorset club had been thrashed 8-1 at Baffins Milton.
‘We need to get maximum points from these two games and we’ll be disappointed if we don’t,' Catlin admitted.
‘We’re finding a little bit of form now but we’re still a little behind everyone else in the league, we’ve only played three games whereas some have played five or six.
'It’s important we start getting a run of results in the league, putting points on the board and start putting pressure on the sides above us.
‘We’re obviously going to miss a game next Saturday (October 10, v US Portsmouth) when we play in the Vase again so it looks like we’ll be playing catch-up for the time being.
‘We’ve got a strong squad, strength in depth, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep some consistency in our performances.'
A far from spectacular start has seen Portchester dumped out of both the FA Cup and Wessex League Cup, while they also suffered a league loss at neighbours Fareham.
But Catlin admitted he would much rather wobbles arrive in cup ties as opposed to the 'priority' of the league.
He also felt a slow start was to be expected with several new additions settling in.
Seven of the 14 players used in last week’s 2-0 home win over AFC Stoneham are new signings – Liam Hibberd, Luke Dempsey, Rudi Plummer, Lee Wort, Craig Harding, Joe Chamberlain and Barry Mason - while young Joe Johnson didn't play in the first team either in 2019/20.
'It’s very unusual that you put five or six players into a squad and it gels straight away,' added Catlin.
‘A bit of inconsistency with results probably was to be expected but, luckily, most of them were in cup games.
'There’s no need to panic, I trust the players that we’ve got and most of them are experienced at this level and above.
'It’s just a case of tinkering with it until you get the right blend and players find a bit of form really.
‘If we’re going to lose games I’d rather we lost them in cup games than in the league, the league is our priority.'
Defenders Luke Dempsey (calf) and Pete Castle (groin) are doubtful for the trip to Portland.