Chandler eyes cup upset

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Portsmouth coach Ian Chandler insists his side are capable of upsetting favourites Gosport & Fareham to lift the Hampshire Cup at Rugby Camp tomorrow (3pm).

It’s been a difficult season for Portsmouth as they fell short of their target to get promotion back to London one south.

But Chandler will be looking for a trophy to give the players something to look back on for their hard work.

‘Winning the cup would be a great reward for the efforts our players have put in,’ said Chandler.

‘They have made a lot of progress in difficult circumstances and are still a very young side.

‘We have beaten all of the top three sides in our league, showing we can be good enough.

‘Our club have a tremendous respect for Gosport as a club and a team but I think we can beat them.

‘It should be a thoroughly-entertaining affair and a clash between our two styles.’

Chandler is encouraged by the return of a number of his key experienced players.

Matt Morgan, Rich Farmer and Matt Peters all return to the forwards after injury.

Captain Luke Richardson is also back following a 10-week absence with a shoulder injuries.

Dan Neville is free of his medical duties to play at outside-half and young Curtis Barnes plays at full-back.

A hard-fought, close encounter is expected, though London one south side Gosport & Fareham will start as slight favourites to lift the trophy.

Scott Ashley’s Gosport beat local rivals Havant in the semi-final last weekend. They are in good form and will be keen to claim more local pride.

‘We have picked up a head of steam in the league and cup in recent weeks,’ said Ashley.

‘The team have refocused and developed an extra edge.

‘There is a belief we can lift the cup and win our fight to stay up in the league.

‘We have picked up some important momentum but will need to maintain that if we are to beat Portsmouth.

‘Just because we play in a league above them doesn’t mean it is going to be a walk in the park.

‘They have nothing left to play for in their league, so this will be the be all and end all for them.

‘It will be a hard game for us.’

Ashley is waiting on the fitness of young full-back Tom Lewis who has picked up a knee injury.

Portsmouth: C Barnes, S Dufus, A Barnes, L Chandler, Gee, Neville, O’Connor, Sargeant, Houlihan, Hankey, Richardson, Giquel, Farmer, Peters, Morgan. Replacements: Cutting, French, Lamont,

J Crabbe, Fooks, Burgess-Kelly, Gates, Long.

Gosport & Fareham (from): Duncombe, Heron, Burns, Burton, Madigan, Roberts, Thompson, C Jones, D Whitehead, O’Donoghue, Cleary, G Jones, Clark, Field, J Whitehead, McRoberts, M Jones, Pollard, Flower, M Smith, Thorne, Foster, Sheppard, Lewis,

Westerman, Veiteve, Wayne Dugan, Wes Dugan.