‘It’s going to be weird’ – Moneyfields’ record appearance holder Conor Bailey on FA Vase return with AFC Portchester

AFC Portchester defender Conor Bailey is relishing his first return to face former club Moneyfields.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 8:25 am
Conor Bailey, right, in action for Moneyfields against current club AFC Portchester in April 2014. Picture: Allan Hutchings

But the Royals full-back admitted it will feel a little 'weird' being at Dover Road as an opposition player.

Bailey is preparing to face Moneyfields for the first time in his career with Portchester making the short trip to their Wessex League Premier Division rivals for a mouthwatering FA Vase second round qualifying tie tomorrow.

Prior to moving to the Royals in the summer, Bailey had spent his entire senior playing days with Moneys and remains the club's record appearance holder with 424 outings.

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Yet, following his 12 years of service at Dover Road, he will come up against his old club for the first time - and the left-back admits it's going to throw up some strange feelings.

Bailey said: 'It’s going to be weird, but I’m looking forward to it.

‘It’ll be good to see some old faces and it’ll be the first time back over there since I left.

‘I watched them (Moneyfields) at Baffins but I haven’t actually been over to Moneyfields because we’ve been playing at the same time normally.

‘I’m just going there and hopefully we get the result we want - getting Portchester through to the next round. It’ll be a tough game.'

For Bailey, a lot of his team-mates and Royals boss Dave Carter, this is their first crack in the FA Vase in five seasons.

Carter masterminded Moneys' rise to the Southern League for the first time in the 2016-17 season in his spell in charge at Dover Road.

But now back in the Wessex League, Bailey is hoping the Royals can go a long way in the competition.

He added: 'Everyone wants to do well in the Vase, it’s a big competition at our level, hopefully we can get past Moneyfields and do as well as we can.

‘When we were in the FA Trophy we were the lowest ranked team (at Moneyfields) so we didn’t get very far in that at all.

‘The Wessex Prem are some of the highest ranked teams, it’s a good competition, so hopefully we can do well in it.'

Bailey will be hoping for better Dover Road memories this weekend then when he last appeared in a Vase tie there.

That was back in 2016/17 when he was one of three home players sent off in the second half in a 4-0 loss to Thatcham. Lewis Fennemore - another player currently with Portchester - and Dan Woodward were also dismissed.

The previous season, Bailey had been part of the Moneys side that reached the fourth round - the last 32 - which is the furthest the club have ever gone in the Vase.

The furthest Portchester have ever reached is the third round twice, in 2013/14 and 2014/15.