California sceaming! US Portsmouth boss Grice: I’m glad I didn’t have to pay to watch Hampshire Senior Cup exit

US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice reflected on his side’s county cup exit at Eversley & California and confessed: ‘If I’d paid to watch that I wouldn’t be happy!’

By Simon Carter
Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 1:57 pm
US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice, left. Picture: Keith Woodland
US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice, left. Picture: Keith Woodland

USP’s hopes of a long run in the Hampshire Senior Cup were ended at the first hurdle - a late goal condemning them to defeat against their lower division hosts from Division 1 of the Combined Counties League last night.

‘It was a bit of a trek up there, not a great drive - especially at rush hour,’ said Grice.

‘The pitch wasn’t great, but no excuses - we just couldn’t get into the game.

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‘It was an ugly game, there wasn’t much football played from any side.

‘We had chances to put the game to bed - Joe Johnson had a chance late on and then they went up the other end and scored.

‘If I’d paid to watch that I wouldn’t have been very happy at all.

‘It was an awful game. Frankie Paige was doing the Twitter updates as he is injured and I asked him if he’d tweeted much - he said he hadn’t because nothing had happened.’

The one positive that Grice was taking from the trip to the Hook area was the performance of youngster Owen Scammell at right-back in a 4-4-2 system.

‘That was the best thing for me,’ said the boss. ‘We had a young lad, 18 years old, playing extremely well.

‘Owen doesn’t shy away from a tackle, he gets stuck in and he’s got a bright future.’

Grice made five changes from the side that had recorded the club’s maiden Wessex League top flight win against Portland last weekend.

Scammell and fellow youngster George Hopwood came in at full-back, while George Root, Dan Sibley and debutant Muzammil Al-Barwani were also handed starts.

‘We’ve got a big squad and I needed to give minutes to players who hadn’t been playing in recent weeks,’ remarked Grice.

‘That was the rationale behind the thinking. But the knock-on effect of making all the changes is you can get a disjointed performance.’

USP return to Wessex action this weekend at Amesbury.

The Wiltshire club have struggled in recent years and were rock bottom of the top flight when both the previous two Premier Division campaigns have ended prematurely.

Amesbury have a new-look squad, though, including striker Josh Carey, who was at Infinity last season after a spell at Sholing, and ex-Lymington player Zak Pickett.

Goalkeeper Ernest Osei - sent off against USP last season while playing for Downton for throwing the ball at Dec Seiden - is another new face.

Amesbury were recently battered 9-1 by Shaftesbury but hit back to beat Christchurch 2-1 last weekend. They suffered a 1-0 home loss to Division 1 club Bemerton Heath in the first round of the Wessex League Cup last night.

‘These are the sort of games we must be looking to win,’ declared Grice.

Hopwood and Scammell are unavailable, however, so US will have to chop and change again.

Watching Pompey and attending music festivals are two reasons that have denied Grice players this season, and he said: ‘It is frustrating.

‘We’re trying to get into a run of form, but in order to do that you need consistent starters.’