Best calling on Locks Heath squad to ‘showcase’ their skills in Portsmouth Senior Cup tie

Charlie Cooper in action for AFC Portchester in the Wessex League
Charlie Cooper in action for AFC Portchester in the Wessex League
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Tom Best is hoping Locks Heath can use this Wednesday’s Portsmouth Senior Cup tie with Horndean to ‘showcase’ their skills against higher division opposition.

Best and his joint-manager Joe Albertella - who worked together at Fleetlands a few years ago - have only been with the Hampshire Premier League club for a few weeks.

While primarily concerned with pulling the team out of their current relegation struggle, Best admits tonight’s tie presents a ‘great opportunity’ for his players.

‘Hopefully they can showcase their potential and show what they can do,’ he remarked. 

‘Look at someone like Charlie Cooper, he was playing for Locks Heath a while ago and now he’s in the AFC Portchester first team.’

Former Fleetlands striker Jake Alford was one of the new managers’ first signings - he scored 20 goals for the Gosport-based club in the HPL two seasons ago -  while last season’s top scorer Ryan Bath has returned.

Young Charlie Moore - previously Sutton United’s under-18 captain - has also joined after moving to the area to study.

Locks won the Hampshire Premier League in 2012/13, and were runners-up 12 months later. Since then, though, they have slipped and last season finished fourth from bottom.

They are currently second bottom with 10 defeats in 13 games, but a recent 1-1 draw with Paulsgrove and a 4-1 caning of Lyndhurst has raised hopes of a recovery.

‘This season we want to pull away from the relegation battle and hopefully finish mid-table, if not higher,’ Best stated.

‘It’s all about setting a base for aiming higher next season.

‘The Hampshire Premier is a very competitive league, the standard is much higher than it was a few years ago.

‘The likes of Fleetlands, Infinity and Bush Hill have stepped it up, and others like Clanfield and Hayling have stepped it up as well.

‘That can only be a good thing.’

Horndean boss Michael Birmingham is unlikely to send many first team regulars tonight.

But that does not mean the hosts will get an easier 90 minutes.

After all, Birmingham rested quite a few of his Wessex regulars in last week’s Russell Cotes Cup tie against Locks’ HPL rivals Infinity - and Deans still won 5-0.