Portsmouth & Southsea are urged to start strong

Portsmouth & Southsea start life back in Southern League division three against South Wilts IIs at St James Hospital.

Friday, 4th May 2018, 6:50 am
Matt Benfield. Picture: Allan Hutchings

Captain Matt Benfield insists his team are ready for the step-up in quality after earning promotion last term and wants to carry on the momentum.

He said: ‘We are ready for it and feel we have matured as a team.

‘For a few seasons we dipped out but finally earned the promotion we wanted.

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‘A big factor was bringing in a coach five years ago.

‘Paul Barsby is also a Royal Navy coach and has brought in a few navy players.

‘We are now starting to reap the benefits of that.

‘We start against South Wilts IIs at home which is a tough ask. They are one of the strongest teams in our division, so we will need to be focused from the off.

‘We will all be up for it I am sure.

‘It is nice to start on our home ground.

‘The pitch and ground is looking in good shape, which is a credit to the work done on the ground in recent weather.’

The hosts will give a debut to navy all-rounder Rob Wigley, who joined the club during pre-season.

Shaun Briggs is also back after missing last week’s friendly win over Hayling Island, after his wife gave birth to their first child.

Meanwhile, new skipper Josh McCoy will have to wait before taking charge of Purbrook for the first time.

They have been forced to call off their division three curtain-raiser against Gosport Borough at the Heath because the ground is unfit to play on.

The council have been unable to get any equipment on to the ground because recent rain has left it so wet.

Purbrook are keen to get started as soon as possible after getting an injection of new blood over the winter.

McCoy, released by Hampshire last season, has returned after a spell with Havant.

Wicket-keeper batsman Ollie Brunswick, leg spinner Alex Cox and fast-medium bowler Tom Amis are other new faces.

Havant IIs travel to take on Lymington IIs in the New Forest.