There’s Friday night PO postcode derby action as in-form AFC Portchester welcome Moneyfields

AFC Portchester boss Dave Carter bids to avoid a hat-trick of losses to former club Moneyfields in a rare taste of Friday night PO postcode derby action.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 17th March 2022, 10:44 am
Lee Wort on the ball for AFC Portchester during September's FA Vase loss at Moneyfields.

Picture: Neil Marshall
Lee Wort on the ball for AFC Portchester during September's FA Vase loss at Moneyfields. Picture: Neil Marshall

Moneys dumped the Royals out of the FA Vase last September - Steve Hutchings netting twice against a side containing a host of his former colleagues at Dover Road.

Then, on November 20, Moneys triumphed 5-3 in a Wessex League Premier Division fixture at the same ground.

Since then, though, Portchester have turned their season around and welcome Moneys to the On-Site Group Stadium as one of the league’s form teams.

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The 5-3 defeat was the Royals’ seventh loss in 18 Premier games. Compare that to a run of just two losses - and 10 wins - in their subsequent 16 fixtures.

Indeed, only Shaftesbury (46), Hamworthy (41) and Bashley (38) have picked up more points since November 20 than Carter’s rejuvenated squad.

Portchester’s 34-point haul compares very favourably to those picked up by Moneyfields (28), Horndean (27) and Baffins (27) in the same period.

The Royals will jump above Baffins into the top seven if they can avoid defeat on Friday, though Rovers will have a game in hand.

‘If we can finish top seven and make the (Wessex League) cup final, having also reached the Hampshire Senior Cup semi-finals, it will have been a successful season,’ declared Carter.

‘It’s all about building the momentum for next season.

‘This season has been about getting used to the Wessex again. I’ve been in the Southern League for four seasons and it’s completely different.

‘The Wessex League is a lot stronger now than when we went up with Moneyfields (in 2016/17).

‘We had a bit of luck back then as Gosport’s financial situation allowed us to bring in Brett Poate and Dan Wooden to give us the boost we needed.

‘It takes time. Look at Brockenhurst, Pat McManus has been there 10 years, Michael Birmingham has been at Hornean for six. Tim Sills has been at Hamworthy for three or four.

‘We’ve only lost twice in 16 league games and both to Bashley. I thought we were unlucky at home and went down there with a makeshift side.’

Bringing the Moneyfields game forward to Friday will allow Portchester an extra day’s recovery before next Tuesday’s ‘El Creekio’ derby at Fareham Town in the semi-finals of the Wessex League Cup.

Moneyfields boss Glenn Turnbull was happy to accommodate the Royals’ request and is looking forward to another healthy PO derby crowd.

Squad-wise, Turnbull has more concerns than his opposite number.

Joe Briggs, who started the campaign at Portchester, is 50/50 after picking up a calf injury in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Alton.

Top scorer Steve Hutchings missed that game through working in Wales, with Turnbull ‘hopeful’ he could figure at Portchy.

Defensive trio Corey Heath, Harry Birmingham and Elliott Turnbull have also been struggling with injuries.

Attacking midfielder James Franklyn, meanwhile, is unlikely to play again this season due to a groin complaint.

Moneys have kept three successive clean sheets in league and cup action. Asked about the chances of a fourth, Glenn Turnbull stated: ‘Not on current form – Portchester are the form team in the Portsmouth area.

‘But we’re playing reasonably well again and as a collective we’ve got a good record there.’

Carter is not reporting any major injury concerns.

Defender Sam Pearce had taken a knee in the back during the previous week’s Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final loss at two divisions higher Farnborough, but came through 90 minutes in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Brockenhurst.

Another ex-Moneys regular, Jake Raine, who had been nursing an ankle problem, also got an hour under his belt in the New Forest.

Friday’s game will be Moneys’ first visit to Portchester for a league game since January 2017. Back then, a Lewis Fennemore double helped the visitors to a 3-1 success.

In the visiting team that day were Conor Bailey, Steve Mowthorpe and Raine, who could be in the Royals side on Friday, while current Moneys pair Tom Cain and Rob Evans were wearing orange.