AFC Portchester and Horndean on the road as they aim to maintain FA Vase Wembley hopes
AFC Portchester and Horndean face tricky away ties as they look to keep the FA Vase Wembley dream alive.
The Royals head to South-West Peninsula League hosts Cullompton Rangers in a first round proper tie on Saturday, writes Kevin Ricketts.
After a stuttering start to the season, Mick Catlin’s side have improved their form.
They have won their last five Wessex matches and will make the journey in a confident mood.
Catlin is also boosted by the presence of striker Jason Parrish, recently re-signed from Baffins Milton Rovers.
The boss said: ‘Jason is a proven goalscorer and is one of the leading goal-getters in the Wessex League.
‘Our strikers have done well but I feel we need more competition in this area.
‘He has been at the club before and we know exactly what we are getting with him.
‘Though Cullompton play a level below us, we are not taking much notice of that.
‘We have to go there and do a job.
‘It depends which AFC Portchester team turns up on the day after a long journey.
‘Wessex clubs have done well in the Vase in the past and it is a competition where we feel we can progress.
‘If we can get past this one, and get a bit of luck with the draw, then we can stand a good chance.’
Striker Mike Turvey faces a fitness test on his knee.
Central defender Josh Warren is definitely ruled out with a broken nose.
Horndean travel in the opposite direction to face Combined Counties League outfit Raynes Park Vale on Saturday.
Michael Birmingham expects a tough encounter against a side that has won their last three games.
‘We know the Combined Counties League is a good standard,’ said Birmingham.
‘One of the joys of the Vase is taking on teams you don’t normally play.
‘I am looking for my team to step up a notch from recent games.’
Horndean have let in seven goals in their past two home games, losing 4-0 to Fleet and drawing 3-3 with Brockenhurst.
‘If they keep giving away the goals they have then it is going to be extremely hard work.
‘We have lost a bit of the work ethic that the team has been renowned for in the last couple of years.
‘I am looking for us to be braver and get some of our spark back.’
Birmingham hopes to have Alfie Lis back after having flu and Greg Peel from his cracked ribs and punctured lung.
Bobby Scott could also be available.
Harry Jackson is definitely out after having knee surgery during the week.