Paulsgrove facing hectic cup schedule after returning to action with impressive friendly draw at new-look AFC Portchester

Paulsgrove are facing a hectic schedule after marking their long-awaited playing return with a 2-2 draw at Wessex League Premier Division outfit AFC Portchester on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 12:30 pm
Paulsgrove's Aaron Fennemore, right, in action during the 2-2 friendly draw at AFC Portchester. Picture: Daniel Haswell.

Wayne Grant s men, back in action for the first time since December 12, now fac a run of six games in just 22 days.

Entered as one of the 29 teams in the Hampshire Premier League L4 Teamwear Challenge Cup, Grove are in a group with fellow Senior side Clanfield and Division 1 duo Denmead and Harvest Home.

Grove start the tournament with a home game against Denmead on Saturday, which begins a run of four games in just 11 days.

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New Portchester signing Lamin Jatta (orange) in action against Paulsgrove's Billy Butcher. Pic: Daniel Haswell.

After that, they travel to Hawks’ Westleigh Park to face Clanfield next Thursday (7.45pm).

Grant admitted the scheduling for the competition will place a strain on his players physically - but he is just pleased his squad are back playing again.

He said: 'Personally, I would have liked to have just carried on playing friendlies.

‘You get a look at everybody, it’s a massive outlay physically and financially when you think we’ve got four games in 11 days - the lads are still working full-time as well - there are going to be a lot of tired legs, especially after three months off.

A snow flurry in April as Steve Ramsey (left) is congratulated after his goal for Portchester against Paulsgrove. Picture: Daniel Haswell.

'But we’ve just got to be thankful that we’re playing, that’s the main thing.

'I’m really not worried about results; people are saying we’ve got to be favourites to get out of the group, but I’m not even thinking about it - everything is on a level playing field to me.'

In-form striker Zak Willett continued where he left off when the non-elite season was stopped almost four months ago, grabbing both first half goals in the friendly draw at Portchester.

Steve Ramsey and Lamin Jatta twice replied for Portsmouth before the interval.

New Portchester signing Lamin Jatta waits for a corner during the 2-2 friendly draw with Paulsgrove. Pic: Daniel Haswell.

Goalkeeper Taylor Revy saved a penalty after the restart to ensure Paulsgrove avoided defeat against incredibly tough opposition - Royals boss Dave Carter including six of his former Moneyfields squad among his matchday 22.

Jatta was one of them, along with goalkeeper Jake Hallett, defender Sam Pearce and midfielders Tom Dinsmore, Marley Ridge and George Barker.

Grant was delighted how his squad coped against quality opposition after an extended lay-off.

He said: 'I was really, really impressed with our lads, especially against a team that are champions-elect for the Wessex League.

‘Both teams had chances to win it, it was probably a fair result.

‘That’s the sort of level we want to be at. We had a few players missing as well, so it bodes well for us.

‘I was impressed with my lads.'