‘We’re very happy with the quality’ – Locks Heath’s pre-season includes 3-3 draw at US Portsmouth in ‘crazy heat’

Jon Whitfield says Locks Heath's pre-season can be deemed a success so far - despite being set back by the pandemic.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:03 pm
Jack Chandler levels at 3-3 for US Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland

Locks have seen several first team players contract Covid-19 this summer, but they've still managed to return to training and get run-outs in some high profile friendlies.

Heath faced Baffins Milton Rovers a few weeks back, losing 4-0, while they claimed a 3-3 draw with Wessex League Premier Division new boys US Portsmouth on Saturday.

Jimmy Cuthbert, Jamie Hall and Rich Tonigho were on the scoresheet for Locks, who had led 3-1 on the 3G surface at HMS Temeraire. USP assistant manager Tom Jeffes and Jack Chandler were among the home scorers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Locks score a second penalty to lead 2-1. Picture: Keith Woodland

Assistant manager Whitfield saluted his side's showing against a team two divisions above them in the pyramid - and how they coped in scorching heat in a morning kick off due to Hampshire League cricket taking place in the afternoon.

‘Both teams sort of played a mixed bag of first and reserve players (against USP),' said Whitfield.

‘It was a good game, it was a quality game, we were 3-1 up for a long period.

‘We played some nice stuff in some crazy heat at that time of the morning on a 3G pitch - people’s legs were almost burning, it was so bad coming off the ground.

US Portsmouth's Fin Bellow (middle). Picture: Keith Woodland

‘The heat coming off was crazy, obviously it was the same for both teams, it was a useful exercise.

‘We played Baffins a few weeks ago in a last minute friendly which was again a good exercise.'

Whitfield feels clubs are being faced with one of the most 'difficult' pre-seasons ever amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

Locks are just one of a number of teams who've had to work as best they can without several squad members at one time.

US Portsmouth's Tom Jeffes protests his innocence, but Locks are awarded a second penalty. Picture: Keith Woodland

But despite the testing circumstances, Whitfield is still taking a number of positives from how preparations for the new season are progressing.

He said: ‘There have been a lot of pre-season games cancelled, a lot of teams are struggling to put out a squad or two squads. We’ve had numerous Covid cases over the past couple of weeks which puts players out for 10 days at least.

‘It’s been a difficult one (pre-season). I think everyone has been put on the back foot a little bit, but we’re very happy with the quality, we’ve got some new players and loads of players contacting us in the off season which has been good.

‘There have been a couple of finds there who are going to be in and around the first team squad.'

Tom Jeffes levels for US at 1-1. Picture: Keith Woodland

US Portsmouth included former Pompey Academy skipper Obi Saidy against Locks, but he has not signed on for 2021/22 yet.

US boss Tom Grice is also having a look at former Baffins, Hamble Club and East Preston striker Sammy Ndlovu.

US have three games in as many days - against Fleetlands tonight, Gosport Under-23s tomorrow on the 3G at HMS Temeraire and at Bemerton Heath Harlequins on Saturday.

At present, the club’s final friendly ahead of their first ever Wessex Premier campaign is against Sholing on Friday, July 30.

US Portsmouth striker Andy Todd, right. Picture: Keith Woodland
US Portsmouth keeper Lewis Broughton. Picture: Keith Woodland
US Portsmouth's Dylan Riches, left, slides in for a tackle. Picture: Keith Woodland
US Portsmouth's Obi Saidy, right. Picture: Keith Woodland