By Dave Kemp.
AFC Portchester may have hit the headlines with their extended run in the FA Cup following a magnificent away victory at Bideford Town to earn a home tie against Merthyr Town next Saturday but the focus of attention falls on this afternoon’s FA Vase opener against Hellenic League side Holyport.
And yes, with everyone locally thrilled to see the club finally show what they are all about following a somewhat disappointing start to their Wessex League campaign, manager Graham Rix and his assistant Steve Johnson can take much of the credit for turning things around.
Indeed, with fixtures in a variety of competitions coming thick and fast, the defeat at Cowes was painful to watch but should have been won had just a few of the many chances been taken.
Then on a hot late summer evening and with the mosquitoes biting lumps out of the many supporters at Cams Alders and despite several regular players being unavailable the lads beat an inform Fareham Town side 20.
More good news was to follow when three days ago away at Whitchurch United, Portchester helped themselves to another three Wessex League points in a magnificent seven goal victory.
Now it’s Holyport who visit Portchester’s Blanchard Wells Stadium looking to take a further step in the FA Vase and travel home to Maidenhead with a win under their belts.
And the Villagers appear to be the inform team of the Hellenic League as after beating Wokingham & Emmbrook 31, followed it up with a six goal thrashing of Cheltenham Saracens last Saturday.
So everything appears set for what promises to be an absorbing tussle, something that chairman Paul Kelly believes will generate a marvellous spectacle for the fans to enjoy.
“Everyone has been looking forward to this match, we know as much about Holyport as they know about us which makes for an interesting afternoon, said Kelly.
No excuses, of course our league form was causing a few worries but it didn’t help in our preparation for the league campaign when a couple of our arranged pre-season friendly matches were called off.
And with several players picking up long term injuries, we just needed to get on with what we have got left and the spirit within the camp generated by good management has given the lads a massive boost to climb the Wessex League table and advance in the Hampshire Senior Cup after a 42 win at Romsey.
So for the remainder of this afternoon at least, the team that steps out need to focus on doing their very best to beat Holyport for a place in the next round of the Vase.
What I do know is that provided we play to our very best, the lads are mind set on beating whoever the opposition is so bring it on and see where it takes us!