Rix relishes tough clash to open new season

Steve Hutchings. Picture: Neil Marshall
Steve Hutchings. Picture: Neil Marshall
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AFC Portchester open up their Wessex League premier division campaign against highly-fancied Sholing Sports at Wicor Rec tomorrow (3pm).

Both teams are fancied to be title challengers.

Royals manager Graham Rix is relishing the challenge.

He said: ‘It is a tough start but it should give us some idea of where we are.

‘We have had a good pre-season and all the players have worked hard.’

The Royals have Joe Bye suspended for the opening four games and midfielder Ryan Smart is an injury doubt.

Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford is without a few key players for their opening game against Andover Town at Dover Road (3pm).

Striker Steve Hutchings has an injury and Alfie Rutherford could be heading for Ryman League premier division football with Bognor.

Suspended pair Jake Morgan and Jack Lee are also out.

New arrivals Ryan Inskip and Toby McAuley could line-up against their former team-mates, with Aaron Cook, Tom McInnes and goalkeeper Gary Streeter also set to make their debuts for the hosts.

‘Starting the season minus some key players isn’t ideal but we just have to get on with it,’ said Rutherford.

Fareham Town’s caretaker-managers Shaun Coles and Howard Dove face a difficult start at Hamworthy United (3pm).

They also face a goalkeeping crisis with both Christian Dewey and Luke Douglas ruled out by injury.

The Reds will field a new-look line-up with up to five players making their debut.

Horndean manager Dave Carter is backing his team to make a winning start against Blackfield & Langley at Five Heads Park (3pm).

‘This is the best squad I have ever had at the club,’ said Carter.

‘With home advantage I am looking for us to get off to a winning start.’

Suspended duo Nick Tayler and Nathan Kirby miss out but new striker Robbie Tambling and ex-Fareham pair Louie Martin and Ian Humble will make their debuts.