Bournemouth Poppies manager Michael Cuffie believes that Saturday’s clash with Portchester is another chance for his side to pick up three points.
Dan Davis / Giancarlo Bocchetti. The high-flying visitors AFC Portchester travel to Victoria Park in second place in the Wessex Premier standings, having suffered just one defeat since the start of the season. However, Poppies are just three points behind and host Saturday’s clash aiming to extend their unbeaten run in the league.
Last season, Saturday’s visitors recorded a comfortable sixth-place finish, whilst Poppies rounded off their campaign near the foot of the table. However, the change in Poppies’ fortunes has seen Mike Cuffie’s side suffer just a single defeat since August. “We have a bigger squad now and that helps when you look at the whole season we got ahead of us“, highlighted the assistant manager, Leo Cabeleira.
Recent fixtures between Poppies and Portchester leans heavily in the visitor’s favour, with the Winton-based outfit often failing to pick up a victory against the Royals. In August 2015, Portchester emerged comfortable 3-0 victors in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round, before keeping another clean sheet the next season in a 2-0 win. The most recent clash between the two sides came in March this year, which resulted in a tightly-fought goalless stalemate.
When asked about the match, boss Cuffie admitted: “It’s just another game, actually. That’s the way we’re looking at it. It’s another game we want to win.”
Poppies enter the clash on a high after beating higher-league opposition in Gosport Borough on Tuesday. The Boro, currently contesting in the Southern Premier, took the lead twice under the floodlights before Poppies battled back to clinch victory on penalties. “We had a really hard game on Tuesday, so it’s about recovery at the moment. The fact is that we’re doing well, and we’re attracting a lot of people.”
The boss admitted that the Hampshire Senior Cup tie was tough on his squad, but that Poppies’ resurgence had also attracted several potential signings, “I’ve got some new signings at the moment. Whether they’ll be involved on Saturday or not, I’m not sure. The signings have made the squad stronger and have made my job more difficult.”
Bournemouth FC will recover midfielder Harry Cooper for this match, “We got Cooper back from his holidays and Ali (Zintany) is getting his fitness back. He started the season well, but he will become even better”, confirmed Cabeleira.
The season is long and competing on so many competitions at the same time, is something that the coaching staff is very aware of to keep the fitness in the squad , “You can’t just perform with eleven players, you need 18, 19 to compete. Obviously, you’ll have injuries and suspensions and you need to make your squad as strong as possible, so you don’t miss the players that have to step out the side for whatever reason” explained Cuffie
Kick off at Victoria Park on Saturday is 3:00pm. Tickets are available from the office at Victoria Park. Adults £6, Concessions £4, Programme £1, Children free admission. Come and join us! #UpthePoppies.