AFC Portchester will have to 'be at their best' if they are to score derby win over rivals Baffins Milton Rovers

Mick Catlin insisted AFC Portchester will need to be at their best to see off Baffins Milton Rovers in their Wessex Premier derby contest at the Crest Finance Stadium (3pm).

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:39 pm
Alex Baldacchino is out with a hamstring injury. Picture: Keith Woodland (281219-105)

The Royals boss wants a repeat of the performance that saw his troops beat Tadley Calleva 5-1 on Tuesday.

Portchester cannot afford to drop points as they aim to get their promotion bid back on track.

‘The win against Tadley was important to us, but even more pleasing was the fact that we played well,’ said Catlin.

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‘Hopefully, it will give us the confidence boost that we need.

‘We know that we have to get on a winning run if we are to close the gap on the top sides.

‘Although we have games in hand, that will count for nothing if we don't win them.

‘Baffins are always a tough nut to crack and being a derby, it always gives it that added bit of spice.’

The home side will be without Alex Baldacchino and Patrick Hnath.

Baldacchino is struggling with a hamstring injury and teenage winger Hnath is having a trail at Championship club Reading.

Baffins boss Steve Leigh regards the game as a free-hit for his young side.

After a good first few months of the season,Rovers’ campaign has been badly disrupted by the weather.

Since November, they have only been able to stage one home league game.

As a result, they have only completed half their 38 Wessex fixtures - meaning they will be shoehorning as many games into the last three months of the season as they played in the first six months.

The lack of action led to their players losing some of fitness and match sharpness.

To make matters worse, the recent games they played have all been against in-form sides.

‘It has been tough coming back against teams like AFC Stoneham, Lymington and Christchurch,' said Leigh.

‘Christchurch, in particular, showed how far we still have to go.

‘Portchester are another top team who will be right up there.

‘There have been glimpses of improved form in the last couple of weeks and we are gradually catching back up.

‘All the pressure will be on Portchester because they are the ones with the budget, players and promotion ambitions.

‘All we are looking to do is get better each game.

‘We are a young side and are going there to enjoy it.’

George Way is likely to be out for at least two months after snapping a tendon and suffering ankle ligament damage during the recent Portsmouth Senior Cup tie against Paulsgrove.

Sam Emeney, Brandon Miller, George Burgess and Ben Spranger are all doubts as Baffins look to beat the Royals for the first time in a Wessex match.

Last season both games ended as draws, with current Royals striker Jason Parish on target for Baffins in one of them.