AFC Stoneham can 'show how far they've come' at 'ambitious' AFC Portchester

AFC Stoneham have another opportunity to show how far they’ve come as a club at AFC Portchester on Saturday.

By Sports Desk
Thursday, 9th January 2020, 10:55 am
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 3:55 pm
AFC Stoneham in Hampshire Premier League action at Headley United in January 2014. Picture: George Spear
AFC Stoneham in Hampshire Premier League action at Headley United in January 2014. Picture: George Spear

That’s the view of the Purples’ joint manager James Phillips ahead of their trip to fellow high-fliers the Royals.

AFC Stoneham were promoted to the Wessex League Premier Division for the first time this season and have enjoyed a superb start to the campaign.

Phillips’ side sit second in the table, just three points off leaders Alresford – who they beat 1-0 last time out – with two games in hand.

The Purples will be making the trip to third-placed Portchester full of confidence having won each of their past six league outings.

Stoneham’s rise has been an impressive one when you take into account were playing in the Hampshire Premier League as recently as the 2014-15 season.

Now Phillips wants his team to continue to display their credentials at this level when they travel to Mick Catlin’s ‘ambitious’ Portchester.

‘AFC Portchester are a really good side, so we’re expecting a tough test,’ admitted Phillips.

‘But we’ve been in some really good form.

‘We’re delighted with how it’s going at the moment.

‘I was with Stoneham last year and the season before that.

‘We worked so hard to try to get out of division one.

‘So to come into this league and be fearful of playing these sort of games would be the wrong way to look at it.

‘We want to be playing against the likes of Portchester and those other ambitious clubs that want to go higher.

‘It gives us a great opportunity to see how far we’ve come and how we’re progressing.’

Phillips revealed the club’s main goal is to make sure they’re a Wessex League Premier Division side next season.

But having made such a good start to the season, he wants his squad to be pushing to finish as high as they can this term.

‘Any club that goes up a division, the first priority is to stay in that league,’ added Phillips.

‘We were hoping to be around mid-table.

‘That’s still the overriding goal from the club’s point of view.

‘We’ve got a group of players that are trying to push to better that.

‘We’re always reminded that football can change at any point.

‘There were some teams like Brockenhurst who were flying at the top of the division.

‘They lost a couple on the bounce and are back down in mid-table.

‘We’ll keep pushing as long as we can.’