US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice on why 2-0 Wessex League loss at high-flying Bashley was a ‘good day’ for his club

US Portsmouth manager Tom Grice. 
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 150122-58)US Portsmouth manager Tom Grice. 
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 150122-58)
US Portsmouth manager Tom Grice. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 150122-58)
Depleted US Portsmouth suffered a ‘very, very tough’ afternoon in the New Forest against high-flying Bashley.

US conceded two first half goals as Bash won for the tenth time in 11 Wessex League Premier Division games to move into third place.

But beaten boss Tom Price still claimed it was a ‘good day’ for his club, with a 17-year-old debutant and players moved out of position.

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Tom Dinsmore and Vinny Magee were ruled out through positive Covid tests, while central defenders Tom Jeffes (suspended) and Connor Grant were also unavailable for one of the toughest trips of US’s debut step 5 campaign.

Josh Stream, who plays for Gosport Borough’s under-23s, was handed his first start at left-back with Ryan Smart, who usually plays in midfield, switched to centre half alongside Pip Wilcox.

With US reserves’ game called off, George Hopwood made just his fourth start of the season in midfield and three youngsters - Charlie Bell, Wes Luff and Cameron Tomkins - were introduced off the bench.

‘It was a very, very tough day,’ said Grice. ‘If Bashley had been five or six up at half-time that would have been a fair reflection, but they were extremely wasteful with their chances.

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‘The second half was a different story, and someone I know texted me to say they thought we were the better team.

‘No-one expected us to get anything from the game. We may have lost, but some of the youngsters got a chance and to me that means more than anything else.

‘We’re never going to be able to afford to pay players £200 a week, so what I’m trying to do is create a clear pathway from the youth team to the reserves to the first team.

‘You can see that happening, and that’s why it was a good day for the club to be fair, even though we lost.’

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US now have five successive home games, including attractive matches against second-placed Shaftesbury next Saturday and AFC Portchester (Tuesday, April 5).

Grice is targeting nine points from his side’s last seven games. US host fourth-bottom Christchurch and go to third-bottom Bournemouth Poppies in their last match, while they also face fellow mid-table outfit Blackfield & Langley.