Deans to draw on derby delight in Cup challenge

Jack Warren, right. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Jack Warren, right. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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Horndean have been handed a tough assignment against Melksham Town at Five Heads Park as they set off on the Wembley trail in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup (3pm).

Michael Birmingham accepts the Western League visitors will be a tough nut to crack.

But the Deans boss is hopeful their 2-1 Wessex League premier division win over Fareham Town on Tuesday night will provide a timely confidence boost.

‘Melksham finished third in their league last season – ahead of some quality teams,’ said Birmingham.

‘Hopefully our competitive derby win in midweek at Fareham will stand us in good stead.

‘I was pleased with the way we scrapped to hold on after going down to 10 men.

‘If we are to progress in the cup we will have to be prepared to do the unglamorous aspects again.’

Birmingham is boosted by the return of central midfielder Jack Warren after work commitments ruled him out of the season’s curtain-raiser.

Fareham Town are hard hit by injuries and unavailability ahead of their trip to fellow Wessex League premier division outfit Bashley.

Pete Stiles is sweating on the fitness of four players, while Eliot Roberts, George Davis and Luke James are unavailable.

‘It is still the holiday season, so we are missing players,’ said the boss.

‘Against Horndean I thought we were very sloppy defensively in the first half.

‘We were slow off the mark and could have been dead and buried by half-time.

‘In the second half, we were much better and I thought we were unlucky not to come away with something.’

Ian Saunders insists AFC Portchester won’t be taking first division Christchurch lightly at Hurn Bridge.

The assistant manager is looking for the Royals to bounce back from their opening-day league defeat against Alresford Town on Tuesday night.

‘It was disappointing and a bit deflating to lose to a 92nd-minute sucker-punch,’ said Saunders.

‘We paid the price for missing a couple of really good chances.

‘I am looking for us to move on and make up for it by progressing in the Cup.’

There is a doubt over Gary Moody, who picked up a groin injury, but Lewis Edwards returns in midfield.

Baffins Milton Rovers are in Wessex League premier division action against Hamble Club at the Kendall Stadium.

They beat Petersfield Town 3-1 on Tuesday night.