Royals ready for ‘ding dong’ battle

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AFC PORTCHESTER are in the mood to close the gap on the top two in the Wessex Premier as they face Andover Town at Wicor Rec (3pm).

The Royals are four points adrift of second-placed Blackfield but have three games in hand on their Waterside rivals.

Fifth-placed Andover will present them with a tricky test but the Royals are in a confident mood after romping to a 5-1 win at Lymington in midweek.

Royals manager Graham Rix is expecting a ‘ding dong’ battle with the visitors.

He said: ‘Andover are no mugs and it is crucial that we maintain our standards.

‘We played well at Lymington but have been guilty of dropping points at home this season.

‘Our aim is to hang in there at the top, keep winning and see where that takes us this season.’

Rix has the luxury of a full-strength squad to choose from.

Fareham Town are resorting to special measures in a bid to host their first home game in nearly four months with Lymington Town the visitors (3pm).

The Reds are aiming to cover the problem areas of their Cams Alders pitch with tarpaulins in a bid to beat the rain.

Manager Steve Stone is hoping the desperate efforts will save the game.

He said: ‘The weather forecast isn’t great again but hopefully covering parts of the pitch might help.

‘Player-wise we are down to the bare bones with injuries and unavailability hitting us hard.

‘We have only got a small squad anyway and that includes three goalkeepers and eleven midfield players.

‘I have to choose a team from the players we still have walking.’

Zac Szemis has returned to Scotland and Wayne Boud is unlikely to figure after being sent off at Verwood Town.

Striker Simon Woods has been troubled by flu all week and influential midfielder Bradey Norton has a knee injury.

Luke Heard has ben playing with a heavily strapped foot.

Horndean are set to play their third game in five days as they host Sholing Sports at Five Heads Park (3pm).

Craig Pearce’s team lost at Basingstoke Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup on Tuesday and last night went out of the Portsmouth Senior Cup in a 2-1 defeat to Moneyfields.

Moneys, who eclipsed Lee Tigwell’s strike with goals from Tom Chapman and Dan Woodward to move into the next round, also remain busy with a visit to Whitchurch United (3pm).