Royals told to flex promotion muscle

AFC Portchester boss Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall (170298-18)
AFC Portchester boss Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall (170298-18)
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Ian Saunders has called on AFC Portchester to force themselves into the Wessex League premier division promotion picture.

The Royals are five points adrift of third-placed Sholing Sports but have played three fewer games.

They can narrow the gap on their Southampton rivals by coming away from the Universal Stadium with a win on Saturday (3pm).

However, Saunders knows it won’t be easy.

‘Sholing are probably the most complete side from front to back in our league,’ said the Royals boss.

‘They are big and strong, so we must be prepared to go there and match them.

‘First and foremost it is important we don’t get beaten.

‘Ideally, though, we can come away with all three points.

‘If we pick up the points from our extra games it will put us right up there.’

Portchester are without Joe Noakes, who is suspended, injured duo Josh Warren and Nathan Kirby, while Dan Hayes is working.

Elsewhere, Petersfield Town host Newport in a relegation scrap at Love Lane.

Joint-boss Mark Summerhill is backing the Rams to get the win which would lift them off the bottom of the table.

‘If we play like we did in the second half against Portchester on Tuesday night, for 90 minutes, then we will give ourselves every chance,’ he said.

‘We must start well and not concede two goals in the opening 10 minutes again!

‘Once we got ourselves back into the game we should have gone on and got something from it.’

New arrival Billy Connor has made a favourable impression with his pace and threat up front.

Meanwhile, Michael Birmingham is predicting a cracking encounter as Horndean visit Team Solent.

‘Both teams like to get the ball down and play attacking football,’ said the Deans manager.

‘Hopefully we can come away with the three points to keep pushing at the top.’

The Deans expect Tyler Moret, Joe Richardson, Dan Sackman and Jack Warren to be back in contention.

Louis Bell takes Baffins Milton Rovers back to his old club Blackfield & Langley.

‘I had a good three seasons on the Waterside,’ he said.

‘They have a big pitch and a great playing surface which should suit us.’

Tyler Yates is serving a one-match suspension.

Fareham Town journey to Bournemouth Poppies looking to end a run of four successive defeats.