Harvest Home impressed with US Portsmouth reserves ahead of Hampshire Premier League opener with Denmead
Harvest Home boss Ray Ogilvie will use US Portsmouth as a benchmark for where he wants his Hampshire Premier League newcomers to reach.
The reigning Mid-Solent League champions embark on a new era on Tuesday when they lift the curtain on their maiden HPL Division 1 campaign against Denmead at Front Lawn (8.10pm).
Ogilvie was given food for thought at the weekend when Harvest lost 4-1 to US Portsmouth Reserves in their final friendly, also at Front Lawn.
It was the first time his side had lost a game - competitive or friendly - since March 2019.
‘It could have been seven or eight, the scoreline flattered us,’ said Ogilvie.
‘US were very good, they were young, quick, well drilled, they listened to what their manager was telling them.
‘Their average age must have been about 19, while we worked out afterwards that our squad’s combined age was 572!
‘But US were brave and they didn’t squinney about any of the tackles we put in.
‘I wouldn’t say we bully teams, but every team we’ve beaten we’ve out-powered them, but we were off the pace this time.
‘I have a lot of respect for Glenn Turnbull and Lee Mould at US. They are the benchmark for me - I want our side to be as fit, well organised and respectful as their teams are.’
In addition to losing the game, Harvest also suffered two key injuries.
Skipper Jake Daniels will be out for over a month with a hip injury, while new centre half Mitch Cowan picked up a groin strain.
But Harvest will still have an experienced core about them against Denmead.
Former Hawks and Moneyfields midfielder Brad Fairweather, 36, will make his competitive debut - as will ex-Petersfield defender Keith Martin, 40. Steve Harris, 37, is also in the squad.
Bobby Read, who netted the consolation against US, has come over from Meon Milton - joining his former colleague Harry Byrne - while Charlie Deluchi and striker Dan Anders are also new faces.
‘This is a big game,’ said Ogilvie. ‘It will be an indication of where we’re at.’
Denmead were top of the table when last season was halted, though they finished second to Moneyfields Reserves on a points-per-game methodology.
In a fine debut season at HPL level, after stepping up from the Meon Valley Sunday League, Denmead also reached the semi-finals of the HPL Cup and next Tuesday host Moneyfields in a delayed Portsmouth Senior Cup quarter-final.
Paul Goddard’s men have carried on that form in pre-season, beating four teams from the HPL Senior Division - Clanfield (3-0), Liss (3-2), Lyndhurst (4-2) and Chamberlayne (3-1) - in friendly action.
‘I respect that Moneyfields will be favourites,’ said Ogilvie, ‘but in-house I’ve told my lads that I want to win the league.
‘I have to believe that; if I don’t believe it how am I going to make my players believe it?
‘I’m told Moneyfields are coming down to watch, so there’ll be three squads there all wanting to win the league this season - that’s great for the Portsmouth area.’
US Portsmouth netted through Brodie Spencer (2, including a penalty), Josh Hazell and Luke Richards.
US gave minutes to first team squad players such as ex-Portchester midfielder Spencer, Hazell and Sean Snelling who hadn’t been involved in the 2-0 win at Cowes the previous evening.
US first team boss Turnbull said: ‘I had a text off Ray (Ogilvie) on Sunday saying how well he was impressed with our team. That was nice, he didn’t have to do that.
‘It’s the ethos we’re trying to install – we’re not just one team, we’re a club – and it’s nice when you get feedback like that.’