Hawks to call on youth as Baffins eye upset
Baffins Milton Rovers and the Hawks will finally bring the curtain down on the local football season tonight.
The two sides meet in the Portsmouth Senior Cup final at AFC Portchester’s Wicor Rec ground (7.45pm).
The Hawks are looking to defend the title they won last season when they beat Petersfield Town at Westleigh Park.
Lee Bradbury’s side already boast one cup final success this term after defeating Winchester City on penalties to lift the Hampshire Senior Cup at St Mary’s.
In the early rounds of this competition, the Hawks used the games to blood some of their youngsters into senior football.
Bradbury is unlikely to change that policy.
‘The youngsters have helped get us to the final and deserve their chance,’ he said.
‘The whole reason for entering was to give our youngsters a chance to play in adult football.
‘It would be unfair not to stick with them and it will be another good test for them.
‘As a club we are keen to retain the trophy and the side we put out will be competitive.
‘It is a chance for some of the youngsters to show me what they have learned after being on loan at other clubs. Baffins won’t make it easy for them because they will be keen to take our scalp.’
Certain Hawks players won’t be appearing as they have already been released by the club, including Scott Donnelly, Shamir Mullings, Nic Ciardini and Dan Blanchett.
Midfielder Jake Thomson is likely to get another opportunity to show he can be a valuable squad member for next season.
Thomson trained with the club all last season but got few opportunities in the senior set-up.
Baffins head into the tie on a wave of confidence after winning promotion into the Wessex League for next season.
The Hampshire Premier League champions are relishing the chance to have a crack at their senior opponents.
Manager Louis Bell reckons his team possess enough quality in their ranks to cause the Hawks a few problems.
‘Winning the cup would be the icing on the cake of a terrific season,’ said Bell.
‘We know that we will have to raise our game if we are to beat the Hawks, whichever team they put out.
‘It has been a few weeks since we last played but all the lads have kept training.
‘They have been determined to remain focused for this game. We will be going out to enjoy the occasion.
‘I also know that every single one of the squad are determined to give it everything they have got.’
Bell has to do without Harry Potter and George Thomas who are both cup-tied.
Tickets are priced £7 (adults) and £3 (concessions).