US Portsmouth hoping for better start as they bid to end Hamworthy’s 15-game unbeaten run

US Portsmouth faced seven higher division clubs in last season’s fairytale run to the semi-finals of the FA Vase - beating six of them.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 11:25 am
Action from last season's Wessex League Cup final, where Hamworthy (maroon) beat US Portsmouth 3-1 at AFC Portchester. Picture: Martyn White.

But none were better, according to current US boss Tom Grice, than the Hamworthy United side who defeated US 3-1 in the Wessex League Cup final.

US attempt to end the Hammers’ 15-game unbeaten run this weekend in a Wessex League Premier trip to Dorset. Should they do so, it would arguably eclipse any of the victories the club enjoyed during Glenn Turnbull’s two memorable years in charge.

The Hammers will be on a high after slaying two tiers higher Merthyr in midweek to progress to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, where they now host three divisions higher Bath City.

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‘Including all the teams we played in the Vase, Hamworthy were far and away the best side we played last season,’ said Grice.

‘They’re good defensively and they’re good going forward. (Steve) Devlin will be pulling the strings and others will be running off him.

‘What can you do? We don’t go into any game thinking we’ll lose, but we’re also realistic.

‘Teams can react differently. Perhaps they’ll take their eye off the ball, or the flipside is that they’ll be full of self-belief and we’ll bear the brunt of that.’

Tim Sills’ Hammers have won 13 of their last 15 league and cup ties, drawing the other two - including last weekend’s 0-0 cup draw at Merthyr when they had Jamie Beasley sent off in the second half.

US are minus unavailable defenders Jack Barker and Jack Chandler, but University of Portsmouth student Dylan Riches - who appeared for Clanfield in the Hampshire Premier last season - is added to the squad.

Ex-Baffins striker Joel Jackson played for US in a recent friendly against the Royal Navy, but has yet to sign Wessex forms.

Grice will be desperate for US to make a better start this weekend than in recent games.

Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Alresford was the third game running they had fallen behind in the opening minutes.

George Root and Tom Jeffes - the latter in the 88th minute - gave US a point at Arlebury Park.

Grice said: ‘We gave them the easiest goal you’ll ever see - it’s so frustrating after I said before the game not to concede early.

‘I don’t want it to become a problem.’