Horndean boss Michael Birmingham has a message for his players ahead of touchline return for Fareham Town visit

Manager Michael Birmingham prepared for his touchline return and warned his Horndean players: be wary of a wounded Fareham Town.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:17 pm
Horndean boss Michael Birmingham. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 100721-43)

The table-topping Deans welcome out-of-form Wessex League Premier Division Fareham for a league encounter at Five Heads Park on Saturday.

Leaders Horndean have made a blistering start to the season, opening up a three-point advantage over second-placed Brockenhurst having won 15 of their opening 19 league matches.

In contrast, the Reds make the short trip on the back of somewhat of a slump and are currently without a win in five Wessex Premier matches.

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They have also shipped 14 goals in their previous three outings in all competitions and come up against a Horndean side who have netted an incredible 99 times in 26 matches this term.

But despite the statistics and recent form pointing to another win for the Deans, boss Birmingham - returning to the touchline after a period self-isolating having contracted Covid-19 - will be reiterating the level his players need to reach in order to claim victory.

He said: ‘You’re in for a game from the first minute until the last minute with Fareham because they never roll over. They’re a good side and they represent the manager very, very well.

‘We’ve got a tough, tough PO postcode derby again. We know Fareham are going to be wounded at the moment.

‘They’re going to come out and Pete (Stiles; Fareham manager) is going to demand a reaction, he will demand a reaction, and a reaction is what we know to expect.

Pete Stiles is a top, top man I’ve known him when I had the pleasure of working underneath him at AFC Portchester. He was reserve team manager when I was youth team manager so we keep in touch.’

Assistant manager Jason Mann and general manager Mick Catlin had a perfect record in Birmingham's absence, guiding the team to wins over Alton and Amesbury.

But the Horndean boss is relieved he can return to watch from his usual standpoint this weekend.

Birmingham added: ‘Don’t get me wrong, Manna (Jason Mann; assistant manager) and Cats (Mick Catlin) have done well - I asked for six points and got it - by hook or crook.

‘We got through unscathed, we always knew Alton was going to be a tough place to go to, they’re a well drilled side.’