Horndean boss Dave Carter has told his players that improvements are needed ahead of their Wessex premier derby against AFC Portchester at Five Heads Park tonight (7.45pm).
Carter returned from holiday to witness his team put in a ‘rubbish’ performance in their 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth Poppies at the weekend.
‘We were nowhere near good enough at Bournemouth and need to pull our socks up,’ said Carter.
‘Defensively, we were poor and we have to cut out the sloppy mistakes.
‘More worrying, though, we have stopped putting the ball in the net and that has cost us in our past three games.
‘Our decision making in the final third leaves a lot to be desired.’
The home side hope to have two key players back in their midfield, with the return of Lewis Stockford and Jack Warren from work commitments.
The pair will give the Deans added quality and a bit of fight in the battle to control midfield.
AFC Portchester are keen to get going after an enforced two-week break because of the weather.
The game has an added spice for the Royals as they come up against a few of their former players.
Josh Maddison, Nathan Kirby and Stockford have all had spells with at Wicor Rec.
Director of football Mick Jenkins is expecting nothing less than a close-fought derby.
‘Horndean can be anything they want to be on their day and have some good players,’ said Jenkins.
‘We have fallen behind in games and it is important we make our extra ones count.’
The Royals include new arrivals Harry Wedlake and Alex Baldacchino in their squad.
Fareham host Christchurch in a crucial relegation battle at Cams Alders.
Second-from-bottom Reds gave their survival bid a massive boost with an excellent 2-2 draw at Whitchurch on Saturday.
And manager Matt Parr knows his team need to beat the team directly above them if they are to avoid the drop.
‘Hopefully the Whitchurch result will kick-start our bid to stay up,’ said Parr.
‘This is a big game for us and I am looking for back to back performances.’
– KEVIN RICKETTS