AFC Portchester boss Dave Carter: Teams are pulling out of pre-season friendlies too easily

AFC Portchester manager Dave Carter insists clubs have been pulling out of friendly fixtures 'too easily' this pre-season.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:01 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:04 pm
AFC Portchester's Lee Wort (orange) shadows Bradley Lethbridge during the 2-2 Ray Stainton/Steve Woods Memorial Cup draw at Privett Park last Friday. Picture: Tom Phillips.

And the Royals boss suggested leagues need to clamp down hard on Covid-19 call offs during the upcoming campaign.

Carter was without 11 first team squad members for the trip to face Gosport Borough in the second leg of their Ray Stainton/Steve Woods Memorial Cup fixture on Friday night.

Despite such a high number of absentees, some of whom had contracted Covid or were self-isolating, Portchester still fulfilled the friendly - eventually losing 5-4 on penalties after it had finished 2-2 in normal time at Privett Park.

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Carter filled out his match-day squad with some under-23 players and he told clubs rather than calling off fixtures at the first opportunity they should look at giving some youngsters a first team chance in pre-season.

He said: 'We put a team together to go to Gosport with 11 players missing - I think people are pulling out of these friendlies too easily.

‘They’re taking them too seriously, they’re looking at it and saying, ‘we’ve got him missing, him missing and him missing - we can’t win.’

‘Pre-season is not about that, results don’t matter. It gives youth team players a chance to step up, they feel part of the first team then, it shows progression in the club.

‘They’ve looked at it, they’ve been part of it, they’ve stepped in and know the first team players so when they are asked to come up then they’ve already experienced it.

‘Teams are pulling out of games too easily. From my point of view, I hope the league get hold of it and I don’t want it to be too easy to call games off.

‘We’ve had it go through our camp and players self-isolating; it is what it is, you’ve got to get on and play the game.

‘I wouldn’t like to think people are using it as an excuse not to play a game.'

Carter was delighted with his side's efforts in the two Memorial Cup meetings with two divisions higher Gosport in just under a week.

They drew the first 0-0 before twice coming from behind thanks to George Barker's brilliant solo effort, against his former club, and substitute Lamin Jatta to draw 2-2 before going down on penalties at Privett Park on Friday.

Carter admitted had it been an ordinary friendly the club would have considered not playing the fixture with so many absent, but he felt obliged given the meaning of the two Memorial Cup matches.

He said: 'When you play a team from two divisions above and get a result out of it over two legs and finishing with a draw - it’s fantastic for us.

‘We played superb on Friday night, we had 11 first team players missing due to various reasons, self-isolating, some coming down with Covid, Marley Ridge broke his toe - they were dropping like flies.

‘Had it been just a friendly rather than a Memorial Cup game we might have looked at not playing it.

‘But we went there, I took six or seven under-23s with us, we started with 11 first team players - the first XI were all first team.'

Portchester host Wessex 1 outfit Folland Sports in a friendly tomorrow at The Crest Finance Stadium (7.45pm).