US Portsmouth players told to grab ‘fantastic opportunity’ to continue historic FA Vase journey

Glenn Turnbull is calling on his US Portsmouth history-makers to grab ‘a fantastic opportunity’ against Millbrook this weekend.

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 12:37 pm
Striker Andrew Todd on the ball for US Portsmouth in last weekend's FA Vase second round win over Brockenhurst. Pic: Martyn White

No club from Division 1 of the Wessex League - the sixth tier of non-league football - have ever reached the last 32 of the FA Vase.

But USP will be in the fourth round if they can beat a team currently top of the South West Peninsula Premier East table.

That is vast improvement on what had gone before.

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In their previous 29 Vase campaigns - both as USP and as predecessors Portsmouth Royal Navy - the club had only ever reached the second round once.

Prior to 2020/21, US had only won six Vase ties in 16 seasons. Portsmouth RN had fared little better, winning just four times in 13 seasons and ending their time in the tournament by falling at the first hurdle in six successive years.

Millbrook will be stiff opposition - they have won 10 of their 11 league games in 2020/21 and drawn the other.

They also dumped Wessex Premier side Bashley out of the Vase last weekend, and Bashley then went to Lymington three days later and ended the hosts’ 100 per cent Wessex record.

The Cornish side lost their first game of the season, on September 1, to Bridgwater in the FA Cup. Since then, they have rattled off 14 wins in all competitions in 15 games.

But US are in good form too, having won their last seven league and cup games and 10 of their last 11 across league, Vase and Wessex League Cup.

Last weekend’s 2-1 second round Vase win over Brockenhurst was their third Wessex Premier scalp in the competition this season.

‘On paper - and it’s only on paper - this is the easiest tie we’ve had so far as they’re the same level as us,’ said Turnbull. ‘However, that could be the thing that trips you up.

‘It’s fantastic opportunity to reach the fourth round - let’s go and grab it with both hands.’

Asked what he knows about Millbrook, Turnbull replied: ‘Not a lot - I know they’ve got an expensive coach!

‘In the Vase the home side has to pay the away team’s travel expenses and it could be borderline if we make any money from this game.

‘We’ll put our best 11 players out with regards how we want to line-up, we won’t be tweaking our tactics.

‘We’ll roll the nice and hopefully we’ll get a double six.’

Turnbull was hoping to give game time to some fringe players in Wednesday’s reserve game against Petersfield Town at HMS Temeraire.

Instead, Brodie Spencer, Jay Ripiner and Cameron Quirke all picked up injuries that rule them out of contention for Millbrook’s visit.

John Cass, an unused sub against Brock, is also out with a back injury.

Tyler Moret played up front in Tuesday’s 4-0 Wessex League win at New Milton, but he is cup-tied so Andrew Todd is expected to return to the starting line-up.

‘Ideally we’d win this round and then get an away draw,’ Turnbull continued.

US have been drawn at home in all four rounds so far, though they did switch the first two to AFC Portchester’s Crest Finance Stadium.

‘These are the days you’ll remember,’ said Turnbull.

‘It would be great to have an awayday somewhere.

‘We went to Binfield in the FA Cup last season and the journey was old school - the lads had a karaoke session over the coach tannoy, they say it’s one of their best memories from last season.

‘It would be nice to have an away draw, a decent away day and test ourselves.

‘If we won it, then great - but if we didn’t we could then focus again on the real prize.’

For US, that is promotion to the Wessex Premier for the first time in their history.

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Goals from Luke Richards (2), Charlie Martin and Spencer gave USP reserves a 4-0 win over Petersfield that sent them to the top of the Hampshire Combination table.