Tough September tests ahead for US Portsmouth but it should be experience to 'enjoy'
US Portsmouth manager Tom Grice says his squad should be relishing a busy and tough run of September fixtures.
USP start the month by hosting high-flying Bashley on Saturday while they also have meetings with PO postcode rivals Baffins Milton Rovers, Fareham and a mouth-watering battle with Moneyfields over the next four weeks.
When you add trips to Alresford and Hamworthy into US Portsmouth' s September fixture equation, it certainly does look tricky.
But boss Grice, whose side have won two and drawn the other of their opening three Wessex Premier matches after promotion last season, does not want his squad to get overcome by what's ahead.
Instead, he wants US Portsmouth to enjoy the experience of facing some top teams having worked so hard to make it to step 5 standard.
Grice said: ‘It’s a busy schedule coming up, local derbies I cannot wait for them, it’s why we’re here.
‘We’ve got to play these teams, we’ve got to try to beat these teams, it makes a nice change from going to some of these old grounds.
‘We’ve got to enjoy it, I said to the lads, we’ll see but no matter what happens we will remain resolute.
‘I’ve got no doubt, especially some of these local derbies, we’re going to surprise a few people.
‘There aren’t going to be any teams who are absolutely steamrolling us, I don’t think, defensively we’re quite solid.
‘We’ve made no secret that the league is what we’re focusing on, that’s not to say that we’re not focusing on the games in the cup, we make a few changes and we try to keep the squad fresh. Ultimately, I’m extremely happy with the league form.’
US Portsmouth host a Bashley side this weekend who have won three of their opening four league matches.
They have the second highest home average attendance in the league so far with 288, which is only beaten by AFC Portchester (365).
And Grice believes Bashley are a club US Portsmouth should 'looking up to' as they aim to become an established Wessex Premier team in the future.
He said: ‘I think a club like us has got to look at a club like Bashley and look up to them and think, ‘that’s what we want.’ They’re definitely a well-run club and it’s something that we can hopefully aspire to be, a well-established Wessex Premier side. They’ll definitely be knocking on the door this season, they’ll definitely be in the top five or six, if not up there.
‘It’s what I’ll be talking to my players about, we’re at home, we need to give a good performance and take the bits we’ve done this season and we’ll go from there.’
Debutant striker Blu Boam injured his thumb in the midweek penalties Wessex League Cup defeat to Bournemouth and is a doubt to face Bashley.
Meanwhile, Grice will assess the fitness of goalkeeper Damian Kelsall after he fell ill this week.