AFC Portchester manager Graham Rix is predicting a cracking Wessex League Cup final against Petersfield Town at Wicor Rec this afternoon (3pm).
The Royals are looking to prevent the Rams from completing an impressive league and cup double.
We have been on one heck of a run ourselves so it has all the makings of being a mouth-watering game.Graham Rix
Rix knows the Royals will need to be at their very best if they are to lift the cup themselves and crown a very successful season of their own.
Portchester finished third in the league after going on a terrific run that saw them lose only twice after Christmas.
Both sides enter the game in a rich vein of form and Rix expects it to be a mouth-watering encounter.
The Royals manager has the utmost respect for his opposite number and knows it will be a tough ask for his side to win the trophy.
A sizeable crowd is expected at Wicor Rec on what is a big day for Portchester, who are hosting their first-ever senior cup final.
‘Our chairman and committee members have put in a fantastic amount of hard work to make everything run smoothly,’ said Rix.
‘It would be nice to reward them with a trophy and a game worthy of the final.
‘We want to win it but realise we are up against the toughest of opponents.
‘I have tremendous respect for what Ian Saunders has done at Petersfield.
‘To win the league and promotion in their first season is a fantastic achievement.
‘But we have been on one heck of a run ourselves so it has all the makings of being a mouth-watering game.’
If the Royals hadn’t suffered a disappointing first half of the season there is no doubt they would have pushed the Rams close for the title.
They are a team fully capable of upsetting the champions if they get it right on the day and it will be a chance for the players to show what they can do on the big stage.
Rix will hope to use his vast experience of playing in finals throughout his career to help his youngsters
‘I will tell them to play the game and not the occasion,’ said the boss.
‘They have to go out there and do their jobs as normal and not try to do anything different.
‘It is a chance to go out and show just what they are capable of in front of what I expect to be a large crowd.
‘The time to realise they have played in the final is afterwards.’
Assistant manager Jason Hampson takes charge of the Rams, as Saunders is away.
For Hampson, lifting the cup would be the icing on the cake at the end of a fantastic season.
The Wessex League premier division champions will be the favourites but will not be taking the Royals lightly.
‘By winning the league we achieved what we set out to do, which was to reach step four football,’ said Hampson.
‘What an achievement it would be to do the double.
‘There is a confident mood within the squad but we know Portchester will provide another tough test.’
Petersfield will have to do without central defender Jamie Ford, who is in Mexico.
Phil Archbold has been drafted in to take his place.
AFC Portchester: Thomas, Evans, Stone, Warren, Hardy, Moody, Noakes, Thurgood, Salter-Vaile, Bye, Sweeney, Castles, Littleton, Baldacchino, Musselwhite, Roberts, Smart
Petersfield Town: Short, Woodward, Archbold, Hyde, Wain, Briggs, Boyle, Richardson, Lowley, Todd, Hunt, Tambling, Eaton, Essai, Silver, Read, Thompson