Portsmouth chief urges troops to knuckle down

Ian Chandler has told his men to 'knuckle down'. Picture: Mick Young
Ian Chandler has told his men to 'knuckle down'. Picture: Mick Young

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Ian Chandler is refusing to panic as relegation-threatened Portsmouth prepare to host Old Elthamians at Rugby Camp tomorrow.

The home side are fighting for their lives in London one south.

They slipped into the bottom three after last week’s heavy loss at Trojans.

But coach Chandler is convinced his side can escape the drop.

Second-placed Old Elthamians will present a tough obstacle, though.

And with a trip to third-placed Guernsey to follow, Portsmouth are embarking on a tough period.

‘We have been in worse predicaments and survived,’ insisted Chandler.

‘The next two games are hard and we will do well to get something from them.

‘But after that we have games against the five sides immediately above us and most of them are at home.

‘Those will be the make-or-break games.

‘Our fate is in our own hands but it is vital we set about it with the right mental attitude.’

Chandler was disappointed with the nature of his side’s capitulation at Trojans – who leapfrogged above them courtesy of last weekend’s win.

The home side showed a lot more desire and quickly put the game out of Portsmouth’s reach.

The fact Trojans wanted the win more came as a shock to Chandler, who watched helpless on the touchline.

‘We displayed an air of arrogance that was ill-founded,’ he said.

‘Every time we go out on the pitch we have to earn the right to win and we didn’t do that.

‘It is time to knuckle down. There are only six points separating us and the five teams above.

‘In the next two games it will be all about putting in performances and building up a pattern and structure before the crucial games that follow.

‘We must remain positive and there is no reason why we can’t do well this weekend with home advantage.

‘In fact, because we are not expected to win this one the players can approach it without any fear or trepidation.

‘We have nothing to lose, so can go out there and try to rebuild our confidence for the crunch games ahead.’

Portsmouth ring the changes with half a dozen new faces coming in after the Trojans debacle.

In the forwards, Chris Goldsmith comes into the second row for his first senior start of the season following some impressive second-team performances.

Will Carpenter takes over the outside-half berth with Andy Barnes moving into the centre to partner Lee Chandler.

Portsmouth: Duffus, Haseldine, Norman, Chandler, Barnes, Carpenter, O’Connor, Cripps, Hoolihan, Hankey, Richardson, Goldsmith, Brock, Crabb, Farmer, French, Bowen, Gee