Friends and dugout rivals Tom Grice and Shaun Wilkinson offer their thoughts ahead of US Portsmouth and Baffins Milton Rovers derby battle

US Portsmouth manager Tom Grice is relishing his side's first PO postcode Wessex League Premier Division derby battle this season tomorrow night.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 10:37 am
US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice, left. Picture: Keith Woodland (170721-5)

USP, fresh from an impressive 4-3 win at Portland on Saturday, welcome city rivals Baffins Milton Rovers to the Victory Stadium.

Grice acknowledged a tough evening is sure to await his side, but he sees no reason why his squad cannot inflict a first Wessex Premier defeat of the season on Baffins.

The USP boss said: ‘This is the first of our local derbies, so to speak. As a club, this is massive for us, this is the reason why we’re here.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘Baffins is a club who 10 years ago were in the lower leagues and they’re now in a position where, if I’m completely honest, I’m jealous of them because of their set up. It’s something I would love to be able to emulate them.

‘I think Shaun (Wilkinson) has transformed the team in the past year or so since he’s come in there and you can definitely see a step change of a mid-table Wessex League team to now I would almost say they will be in the top five or six.

‘We’re going into this game on the back of a victory. Sometimes I think the damage that can be done, we know ourselves, from some heavy defeats. It can be hard to shake off.

‘We’re really looking forward to the game and we’ll be setting up our guys to get a win. We’re fairly confident, to be fair, but it’s all going to be on the day.’

Baffins assistant boss Danny Thompson will take charge for the night at US Portsmouth with manager Wilkinson away in Dubai.

Although he might not be on the touchline at the Victory Stadium, Wilkinson's message to his men will be to get set for a tricky challenge against USP side full of confidence after a decent start to the campaign.

The Baffins boss said: ‘Teams are going to up their games (against Baffins), which we’ve found, USP will be no different on Tuesday night.

‘It’s another local derby, Tom (Grice) is a good friend of mine the manager, he’s doing a fantastic job there already. He’s doing a fantastic job with very, very limited resources.

‘The first local derby we’ve gone and beat Moneyfields - the lads were magnificent that night.

‘Obviously US Pompey are high on their weekend win, they’re going to be full of confidence, I think it’s their first local derby. It should be a large sized crowd there and it’s just who deals with the occasion.’