Harrogate's artificial pitch was a 'nightmare' - now Ryan Williams is relishing Portsmouth home FA Cup comforts

Ryan Williams on the 'nightmare' Harrogate Town playing surface in Pompey's previous FA Cup outing.  Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep
Ryan Williams on the 'nightmare' Harrogate Town playing surface in Pompey's previous FA Cup outing. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep
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Pompey overcame the ‘nightmare’ of Harrogate Town’s playing surface.

Now Ryan Williams is relishing the opportunity to maintain FA Cup progress through home comforts – and a grass pitch.

Kenny Jackett’s side face National League North side Altrincham in the second round on Saturday (3pm).

Crucially for the Blues it will be staged at Fratton Park, following the challenges posed by Wetherby Road’s artificial surface in the previous round.

Pompey won that Harrogate encounter 2-1, yet early on fell behind to the non-league club as they struggled coming to terms with the pitch.

And Williams admits he never again wants to play a competitive match on Astroturf.

He said: ‘Their pitch was a nightmare, it was terrible, I hated it.

‘That evening it was raining, the wind was swirling, the pitch was downhill and whenever the ball bounced you didn’t know where it was going to go.

‘I hate Astroturf. I would rather play on a muddy pitch and slip over than play on that.

‘As a winger, you want to knock it in front of you, but you’re worried because it’s just going to roll. It’s hard to dribble, you need the ball to slip away from you a little bit, but it kept rolling.

‘When the ball comes into you, you also have to really focus on your first touch because it skips up and skims off the surface.

‘I had never before played a competitive game on Astroturf, although done a lot of training on those pitches. At Barnsley, when there was snow, we had to go on them, that’s fair enough because you are training.

‘A while ago they had a vote about whether to allow them into the Football League – I remember voting no.

‘I just hope we don’t have to play on one of those pitches again.’

Pompey's own pitch was relaid in the summer and is described as semi-artificial by chief executive Mark Catlin.

Regardless, Williams is looking forward to Saturday's FA Cup occasion.

He added:  ‘We will be expected to beat Altrincham on Saturday.

‘Hopefully we can keep that unbeaten run at home going and move into the next round.’