Fareham chasing another top local scalp as prolific Harry Jackson returns to Horndean squad
Pete Stiles insists Fareham Town are relishing the prospect of a mouthwatering Wessex Premier Division clash with visiting Horndean on Tuesday (7.45pm).
The Reds returned to winning ways with a 2-1 home win against Bashley at the weekend thanks to a stoppage-time goal from top scorer Josh Benfield.
Boss Pete Stiles is after another local scalp after Wessex wins against Baffins Millton and AFC Portchester already this season.
'Local derbies always provide that added bit of spice,' said Stiles.
'Most of the players know each other.
'Often the key to winning these games is who wants it the most on the night.
'It is all about mental attitude and sometimes a little bit of luck.
'In these games sometimes you have to hang in there until something turns the game your way.
'The last time we met Horndean they hammered us at their place and that still hurts.'
Last April, Horndean caned Fareham 6-1 at Five Heads Park to go alongside an earlier 4-1 away success.
Indeed, Horndean have won their last five Wessex games at Cams Alders.
Fareham are without Ethan Jones and Jack Breed whilst Luke Slade has no more than a 50-50 chance, but striker Simon Woods and defender Tom Settle are expected to return to the squad.
Horndean manager Michael Birmingham predictably underplayed his team’s chances - even though a win will shoot them up five places to third on goal difference.
The Deans have been the top local Wessex side in recent years - they were runners-up last season, their highest ever finish - and won't want to give that up.
'With the players they have got I expect Fareham to be challenging for the top four,' said Birmingham.
'They had a fantastic result against Bashley and their side contains a lot of pace.'
The visitors are boosted by the return of prolific forward Harry Jackson from a knee injury.
Jackson was the club’s top scorer in the past two seasons - firing 28 goals in all competitions in 2017/18 and another 30 last term.
Four of last season’s goals came against Fareham - two in each league victory.
Jackson has not played since the second game of this season, though, but his return comes at the same time that another forward, Connor Duffin, is out injured for 10 to 14 days.