AFC Portchester boss Dave Carter facing ‘a lot of hard work’ to build Wessex League promotion-challenging squad for 2021/22

AFC Portchester manager Dave Carter faces 'a lot of hard work' this summer as he tries to build a squad capable of winning the Wessex League Premier Division title.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 9:55 am
Harvey Aston (blue) got some first team experience for AFC Portchester during their Hampshire Invitational Cup campaign. Picture: Daniel Haswell.

All focus can now turn to pre-season after the Royals exited the Hampshire Senior Invitational Cup competition with a 3-0 quarter-final defeat to Blackfield & Langley at the Crest Finance Stadium.

Carter used a wide range of players during the competition with a view to seeing who he might want to try and keep for 2021/22.

The former Moneyfields manager signed several of his former Dover Road squad for the tournament, while he also brought in Stan Bridgman and Bradey Norton.

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But Carter reiterated all those new additions will become free agents from May 31 - meaning other clubs can approach them.

He said: 'We’ll be working now behind the scenes, everybody's registrations finish at the end of May so we can’t make any other transfers until then.

‘It’s my time to work hard now and get some players in who are capable of challenging for that promotion.

‘It’s going to be hard because there’s only one spot - it’s not going to be easy.

‘A lot of respect to Blackfield, they worked hard and did okay, they weren’t a bad little side. They were only a mid-table side last season so that’s what we’ve got to look to improve on and we need to be winning games if we’re going to be up there challenging for that promotion spot.

‘We’ve got a big black book with lots of players' names in with lots of people interested.

‘It’s difficult because you’re playing in this competition and no-one is getting paid or anything like that so you’ve done no deals with anyone to come in. No-one has signed, really, for next season - all the people have only signed for this season and not next season.

‘Everyone is a free agent at the end of May, everyone, unless they’re on contract, so that’s when we’ll look to build our squad for next season.'

Portchester were forced to play Sam Pearce as an emergency goalkeeper in their last-eight defeat to Blackfield.

Both Brad Snelling and Jake Hallett were unavailable so the defender donned the gloves, as he had done during his time at Moneyfields.

Mitchell Speechley-Price, Sami Mahkloufi and Flavio Tavarez all struck for Blackfield to send Portchester crashing out.

But Carter insisted signing up for the supplementary cup set up to provide clubs across the area with some competitive football after the non-elite season curtailment did have its benefits.

He said: ‘It wasn’t a pointless task or exercise for us.

‘Some of the young lads like Harvey Aston, he’s had good minutes in the first team.

‘We’ve trained with the under-23s who are like our reserves so we’ve got a good rapport with them, we’ve built bridges everywhere.

‘I’m pleased we did it (entered the competition). We found a lot out about the players and the people who are there and didn’t know us have found out a lot about us and a lot about the club.

‘We can go into pre-season now ready to challenge for promotion next season.'