Turnbull calls on US Portsmouth squad to grab the chance to make FA Vase memories that will last a lifetime

Boss Glenn Turnbull is calling on his US Portsmouth record-breakers to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 8:33 am
US Portsmouth manager Glenn Turnbull

US host higher-division Christchurch in an all-Wessex League FA Vase fourth round tie at the Victory Stadium on Saturday (noon).

The winners will progress to the last 16 and will be just three more wins away from stepping out at Wembley on May 22.

US have already created club history by reaching the fourth round - the best they had previously managed in 29 seasons (including 13 as Portsmouth Royal Navy) was the second round.

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That is also further than AFC Portchester, Fareham or Horndean have ever gone in the Vase, while Baffins’ best is the fourth round in 2018/19.

Turnbull’s history-makers have already knocked out three of Christchurch’s Wessex Premier rivals - AFC Portchester, Bournemouth Poppies and Brockenhurst – in the Vase in 2020/21.

In their last competitive game on December 19, US defeated Millbrook - like themselves, a step 6 club - 3-2 in the third round.

Millbrook boasted a better points-per-game average in the curtailed South West Peninsula League campaign than Falmouth, who only lost on penalties to Christchurch in their third round Vase tie.

‘No-one expected us to beat Portchester, or Brockenhurst, or Millbrook, but we’ve kept on going deeper and it’s been a fantastic experience,’ said Turnbull.

‘Games against Totton & Eling are year in year out, but win on Saturday and it’s something you will be able to talk about for as long as people want to listen.

‘There’s lots of different inspirations. We’re friends with Graeme (Gee) and Miles (Rutherford) at Chichester - they’ll always remember their FA Cup day out at Tranmere.

‘Wilko (Shaun Wilkinson) can’t stop telling you about the day he played (for Hawks) at Anfield.

‘That’s the opportunity for our players now, to do something out of the norm.

‘For some of the players I’d say this is the biggest game of their careers.

‘It’s definitely the biggest I’ve had. Possibly not for Fraser (Quirke, assistant manager) or Barto (coach Paul Barton), but it is for me.

‘I’ve been blown away by the number of people messaging me wishing us good luck. Cliff Pledge at Radio Solent wants to talk to me - it puts it all into context.

‘The non-league community have rallied round, I’ve had a few different scouting reports on Christchurch. Undoubtedly, they’ve had the same on us.

‘We’ve watched some videos and based some of our training sessions around how we think they’ll play.

‘We feel we will be as well prepared as we can be.’

Based on results over the last two league seasons, Christchurch and USP boast the best points-per-game records in their respective divisions.

‘Without wanting to resort to cliches, I’m expecting a really tough game,’ said Turnbull.

‘We think they’ll look to be quick up front, look to have a good delivery at set pieces - pretty much what you’d expect from a top Wessex side.

‘They are the champions-elect of their division, so as I see it we are playing the best team in the Wessex League structure.

‘It will be the hardest game we’ve had in our two seasons in charge.

‘Our hardest job will be keeping the players’ feet on the ground.

‘You can imagine what the WhatsApp group chats have been like - they’re literally buzzing, though that’s a young person’s word I don’t like using!

‘There’s been a good tempo to the training sessions.’

Jordan Pile is suspended for the big game after picking up two bookings in the Vase - in the last two rounds against Brockenhurst and Millbrook on successive Saturdays in December.

Harry Sargeant is therefore expected to start alongside Callum Glen in the centre of midfielder in Turnbull’s preferred 3-5-2 formation.

Top scorer James Franklyn will look to support front two Andy Todd and Dec Seiden, with Frankie Paige at right wing-back and either Josh Hazell or Elliott Turnbull on the left side.

Skipper Tom Jeffes and Tom Cain will be in a three-man central defensive system with the likes of Harry Birmingham, Sonny Harnett-Balkwill and John Cass also in contention to start.

The winners will travel to Bridgwater or Tavistock - both from the top tier of the Western League, at step 5 - in the fifth round on Saturday, April 24.