PAUL KELLY is refusing to give up on promotion with AFC Portchester still in the hunt as they prepare to host Sholing Sports at Wicor Rec tomorrow (3pm).
The home side have the added incentive of knowing a win will see them leapfrog their visitors up to fourth in the Wessex League premier division.
This makes it a massive game for both teams.
They continue to have hopes of chasing down leaders Moneyfields.
Portchester chairman Kelly admits it is a huge challenge as the leaders have opened up a 17-point lead over his side.
But there could be an opportunity to go up as runners-up as well.
‘We certainly haven’t given up on promotion,’ said Kelly.
‘All the time it is mathematically possible we will keep fighting to grind out the results.
‘There is also the chance we could be promoted as runners-up and we are only seven points behind Blackfield & Langley who are currently second.
‘The Christmas break came at the wrong time for us because we didn’t have a game for nearly three weeks.
‘Up until then we had gone 17 games unbeaten and were keen to keep going.
‘After that we lost a bit of our momentum.
‘Our performances have still been good but we have not scored enough goals.
‘We have got a decent enough squad to move up to the next level.’
The Royals suffered a big set-back in their last game, losing 3-2 at Portland after having a two-goal lead.
Goals from Rob Evans and Alex Baldacchino put them in control.
Unfortunately Graham Rix’s side were punished for two individual errors and Portland then won it with a late blast.
The fact the winner came from a spectacular strike didn’t make it any less annoying for the Royals.
Kelly is confident the team can pick themselves up quickly and knows it could be a very significant win if they can get it tomorrow.
‘Sholing are a strong side and right up there with us,’ said Kelly.
‘I am sure we have enough quality in our squad to get the result we need against them.
‘A win would kick-start our season again and set us off on another long unbeaten run until the end of the season.’
The club is keen for the game to beat the weather because they have 32 people booked in for hospitality before the game.
Kelly is proud of the growing reputation for hospitality at the club.
He added: ‘Mick Jenkins really got the ball rolling when he was here.
‘About three seasons ago when we played Pompey in a pre-season game, he had 74 people sat down for a meal and it was brilliant.
‘It means a lot to a little club like us and provides an extra source of valuable revenue.’
The Royals hope to have striker Andy Todd back from Royal Navy duties and Josh Warren returns from suspension.
AFC Portchester: Scott, Evans, Cain, Edwards, Warren, Kirby, Miroy, Wells, Stone, Sweeney, Peacock, Baldacchino, Todd, Mason, Wuirke, Tuppen