Rix lays down gauntlet to Royals

AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix   Picture: Neil Marshall
AFC Portchester boss Graham Rix Picture: Neil Marshall
Lewis Noice. Picture: Neil Marshall (171033-118)

Noice work earns Portchester cup final

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Graham Rix insists AFC Portchester must beat Wessex Premier basement side Verwood Town at the Blanchard Wells Stadium tomorrow to prove they are title contenders (3pm).

After a disappointing start, the Royals have put together a four-game unbeaten run.

An excellent 2-1 win at Andover Town took them within striking distance of the leading group.

They are currently seventh in the league and just five points adrift of the top three.

Rix is demanding another win to maintain the pressure on the teams above them.

He said: ‘We have to approach the game in the right way because it is a potential banana skin.

‘It is important we forget all about league positions and remain focused.

‘At the moment the players are showing great confidence in each other and what we are trying to achieve.

‘We have come through a difficult period of injuries and suspensions.

‘Despite being without three recognised strikers we are still joint-top goalscorers in our league.

‘Players are starting to come back and I am aiming for us to break into the top three as soon as possible.’

Joe Noakes and Ryan Gristci are back in contention after missing the last game through illness.

Horndean are looking to bounce back from their FA Vase disappointment as they host Sholing Sports at Five Heads Park (3pm).

Exiting the Vase after extra-time to Horsham YMCA was a bitter experience.

Manager Michael Birmingham has every confidence in the ability of his young side to bounce back.

At the same time he is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be against the third-placed visitors.

‘In my eyes Sholing are real title contenders,’ said Birmingham.

‘We will stick to our principles and play our football.

‘Whatever the result, Sholing will know that they have been in a game and they will come to us expecting little else.’

Connor Duffin is back in contention after being cup-tied last weekend.

League leaders Moneyfields need to make a big improvement at home against Andover Town at Dover Road.

In their last home game Dave Carter’s title contenders slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat against lowly Hamworthy United.

Fareham Town’s game at Bemerton Heath Harlequins has been postponed because the home side are involved in an FA Vase replay.