Hawks eye treble... Reds will enjoy bigger stage
LEE BRADBURY is keen for the Hawks to stay on course for a league and cup treble as they host Fareham Town in the Portsmouth Senior Cup semi-final at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).
The tie has been switched to Westleigh Park because of concerns about Fareham’s Cams Alders pitch.
It was felt the pitch would still not be playable after it was waterlogged on Saturday.
The Hawks have already earned themselves one showcase final at the end of the season.
They meet Blackfield & Langley in the Hampshire Senior Cup final at St Mary’s.
Bradbury’s team will start firm favourites on Tuesday looking to book a visit to Fratton Park where AFC Portchester await the winners.
The manager, however, has his eyes fixed firmly on the Vanarama National League South title.
Promotion to the National League firmly remains the priority.
With eight games left the Hawks hold a two-point lead at the top going into busy Easter period.
Bearing that in mind Bradbury is unlikely to take any unnecessary risks with his senior players.
He will be looking to make some changes to his team for the clash with the Wessex League premier division visitors.
He said: ‘At this stage my focus is very much on the league.
‘Of course we want to win every game but I have to prioritise and be sensible in the way we approach things. It will be a chance for some of my squad players to get topped up.
‘Some have not had any action for a couple of weeks so it will be good for them.
‘They will relish the chance to show me they are ready to be involved in the closing weeks of the season.
Reds manager Pete Stiles accepts his team will start the tie as massive underdogs.
He is also frustrated the tie has had to be moved.
‘Our pitch is a major problem and something should have ben done about it years ago,’ said the Reds manager.
‘What promised to be a reasonable season, after a poor start, has become more difficult because of it.
‘We face a situation where we will end up playing every couple of days.
‘Playing at Westleigh Park will give our players the chance to perform on the bigger stage.
‘We know it will be tough but we will have the attitude of going there to give it a go.
‘It will depend a lot on how well we defend.
‘If we can stay in the game we also have some players going forward who are capable of giving them something to think about.
‘I am sure with the chance of playing at Fratton Park at stake the players will be up for it.’
The Reds are without Gary Austin who is cup-tied.