Nine teams still in the race for top four Wessex League Division 1 finish, says US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull

US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull is anticipating an intriguing battle to secure a top four finish and a first ever promotion to the Wessex League’s top flight.

Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 10:29 am
Michael Dark, left, in action for US Portsmouth during last season's 6-2 home loss against Hythe & Dibden. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Burnaby Road outfit are a point clear at the top after coming from behind to win 3-1 at 10-man Petersfield last Saturday.

However, Turnbull insisted his side will have their work cut out to achieve the top four finish that will result in prormotion.

There is very little separating the top seven teams in a tightly-congested table.

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Whitchurch United, currently seventh, are 10 points off the summit and only four points adrift of fourth-placed Downton.

Despite his side’s current lofty position, Turbull admitted he’d settle for a top four finish if he was offered it now.

And he is predicting a fight between up to nine teams to seal one of the four promotion spots.

‘All of the lads are obviously excited, we could hear that in the changing room after (the win at Petersfield),’ revealed Turnbull.

‘But our position hasn’t changed.

‘We want to be in the top four in May.

‘I’ll say it to anyone that will listen, if you offered me fourth now I’d bite your arm off and we can build for next season.

‘Top is nice, but you can throw your hat over the top seven.

‘This win puts a bit of space between us and Petersfield now.

‘But they’re still involved as well.

‘There are still probably nine teams that fancy themselves to get in the top four, we’re one of those.

‘I’d settle for first, second, third or fourth if it offered now.’

One of the teams that will ‘fancy themselves’ for promotion are this weekend's Victory Stadium visitors Hythe & Dibden.

The Watersiders only just missed out on promotion last season – finishing third, a point behind top two Stoneham and Amesbury.

They inflicted a 6-2 thrashing on their hosts when they last visited Portsmouth in October 2018, with Michael Dark among the USP starting XI that day.

He subsequently joined Hythe and his goal in the derby win against Fawley last weekend kept his side four points adrift of USP with a game in hand.

Dark also netted in September’s 2-1 home win over his former club – Hythe coming from behind to inflict one of just three Wessex losses on Turnbull’s table-toppers in 2019/20.