US Portsmouth's chance to achieve a Wessex League Premier PO postcode club first when they face AFC Stoneham

US Portsmouth are bidding to become the first Wessex League Premier Division PO postcode area club to defeat AFC Stoneham this season on Saturday.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 3:55 pm
AFC Stoneham striker Callum Laycock, pictured playing for Fareham Town, comes up against former club US Portsmouth this weekend. Picture: Neil Marshall (171158-10)

Stoneham have proved somewhat of a thorn in the side of teams from the Portsmouth area at step five this term.

The Purples are the only club to defeat second-placed Horndean in the league, while they also beat Fareham Town at home, drew with AFC Portchester and dumped Moneyfields out of the FA Cup at Dover Road back in August.

Meanwhile, Tom Grice' s 13th-placed US Portsmouth have struggled against the heavyweights in the division after gaining promotion, with five of their six league defeats arriving against teams currently in the Wessex Premier top-six.

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But the USP boss believes there would be no better time for his men to deliver a first real statement win since promotion than at eighth-placed Stoneham.

Grice said: ‘I said to the lads at training on Tuesday that we need to build on what we’ve achieved so far - that’s win every game that we’ve needed to.

‘That’s with respect to the teams we’ve played, but we now need to start winning games against the likes of the top-eight teams.

‘It’s one of them where we need to build on what we’ve got, we’ve played quite a few games, we’ve got points on the board but we’ve got teams underneath who could leapfrog us if they win their games in hand.

‘We just need to take stock of where we are, continue to build, and our results will improve and we’ll start beating some of the top-half of the division.’

Grice knows US Portsmouth will have to be on their mettle defensively if they are to come away from Stoneham with a positive result.

And he is well aware of one particular attacking threat they possess, with Calum Laycock previously playing at the Victory Stadium.

Grice added: ‘Ultimately, they’re a young team, they’re well organised, they’ve got some good players with flair, they’re quick on the wings and I think it’s going to be about how we can make sure defensively we shut them out.

‘Obviously we need players like Joe Johnson getting in behind with his pace - he’s been a good player for us so far this season.

‘I’ve got full respect for what Stoneham have done. They were in the league with us (Division One) not so long ago and they’re a well-established Wessex Premier team now.

‘Not only that, they’ve got players like Cal Laycock who was with us a few seasons ago. He’s a good, old-fashioned number nine.’

Centre-back Conner Grant is in contention to make his first US Portsmouth appearance at Stoneham after arriving from Horndean this week.