Crucial few weeks that could go a long way towards deciding US Portsmouth’s Wessex League promotion destiny

Crucial few weeks that could go a long way towards deciding US Portsmouth’s Wessex League promotion destiny

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 5:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th December 2019, 5:57 pm
US Portsmouth's top scorer James Franklyn. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Glenn Turnbull believes the next few weeks will go a long way towards deciding US Portsmouth’s promotion destiny.

The club have never reached the top flight of Wessex football since they entered the league in 2004 - three years after Portsmouth Royal Navy, the services club they replaced, had been relegated from it.

The 7-0 weekend victory over New Milton continued an impressive home record in 2019/20 - seven wins and just one loss and 35 goals scored.

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Only Bemerton, with 40 goals from nine matches, have scored more Division 1 home goals this season.

USP have now struck 54 times in 18 games - one goal fewer than Bemerton. But whereas Bemerton rely heavily on Gosport Borough legend Justin Bennett, USP share their goals around a lot more.

While Bennett has 39 in all competitions for Harlequins, USP’s top scorer is James Franklyn with 18. Bennett is the leading scorer in Wessex 1 with 24 league goals, eight more than the next highest - Franklyn’s 16.

Four of USP’s next six league games are home - and there are some tasty contests in that programme.

After this weekend’s tough trip to Petersfield (who would only be two points adrift of US if they won all their games in hand), Turnbull’s table-toppers host the only two teams to have beaten them away - fourth-placed Hythe & Dibden on January 4 and second-placed Alton a week later.

Another home game on January 18 sees USP welcome fifth-placed Andover New Street, while the following week they visit Romsey - they only team to have beaten them at home so far!

‘The next few weeks could define our season,’ said Turnbull. ‘By the end of January we’ll have a much clearer picture of how it could all pan out.’

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Horndean attempt to put the record straight on their Wessex Premier visit to Fleet (3pm).

The Deans are desperate to bounce back from last weekend’s loss at AFC Portchester against a side that thrashed them at Five Heads Park on October 1.

'Fleet beat us 4-0 at our place,' said Deans manager Michael Birmingham.