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DPL Previews: Wincanton are a big threat to Portland's title hopes
8:25am Friday 1st February 2013 in Hampshire Sport
WINCANTON Town pose a huge threat to the Blues’ title ambitions, according to Chris Wilson.
The two clubs are set to lock horns at Moor Lane tomorrow (2pm) and the Portland United boss is under no illusions about just how significant the outcome could prove to be.
The islanders currently sit three points clear at the top of the Magna Dorset Premier League with a game in hand on both Holt United and Hamworthy Recreation directly below them but it is Wincanton that could yet become their biggest challengers.
Victory for Town this weekend would see them move to within seven points of the Blues with two games in hand – a scenario Wilson is obviously keen to avoid.
The Portland boss told Echosport: “Whenever you go to Wincanton, you know it’s going to be a tough trip because they can be a real handful, particularly on their own patch.
“The table is starting to divide itself up now and with games in hand they are not out of it by a long chalk, so tomorrow promises to be another really difficult game. The good thing is we should have a few players back this weekend.
“Scott Henley is available again following suspension and there is every chance Jimmy Dailey, Adam Skelton, Joe Tog-hill, Carl Mutch and Adam Linaker could all return too.
“Richard Marshallsay is also a possibility but we will just have to see how his Achilles is and go from there.”
One major absentee for Portland will be ex-Weymouth midfielder Andy Harris, who has hung his boots up for the time being in order to concentrate on training for the London Marathon in April. Jor-dan Vincent is also sidelined through injury.
Meanwhile, Chickerell United boss Maurice Welch is hoping a bit of Lionel Messi’s magic will have rubbed off on some of his players ahead of their home clash with Holt United (2pm).
Liam Miles, Nick Etherington, Dan Welch and Liam Beades got to see the Argentinean master at work last weekend as the best player on the planet scored four times in Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Osasuna at the Nou Camp.
All four are available for selection for the Chickens and Welch has the luxury of having a fully fit squad to choose from for the meeting with the side in second.
The Chickens could move into the top four with a win but the task won’t be easy as previous leaders Holt have tasted defeat only once since the third weekend in October.
“We’ve got a clean bill of health with no injuries whatsoever and we’ve got the lads back who went to Barcelona,” said Welch.
“It was great for them to see Barcelona play so well and it would be nice if they picked up a few tips from seeing some of those players. They did try to sign Messi for us after the game but had no luck.”
The Chickens’ manager says his players cannot wait to get some game time under their belts and have trained twice this week after last Saturday’s match at Parley Sports was rained off.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” he added. “Holt are a good side but it’s the kind of game you want when you haven’t played for a while. We cannot wait to get going and if we can put a run together there is still a top-three finish up for grabs.”
Weymouth Reserves look set to be without Liam Greatrex for the foreseeable future.
The influential midfielder dislocated a knee cap in a recent training session, which is likely to keep him sidelined for several weeks.
On a more positive note, Chris Povall, Louis Smith and Adam Frame are all back from suspension and could return to the Terras’ squad for tomorrow’s home clash with Hamworthy United Reserves (2pm).
Weymouth joint-boss Jake Richmond said: “Losing Liam is a huge blow but Chris, Louis and Adam are all back from suspension so we should pretty much have a full squad to pick from.
“We are on a decent run of form at the moment so hopefully we can keep it going.
“We are certainly capable of finishing in mid-table, if not a little higher, but in order to do that we need to carry on stringing a few wins together.”
The Terras have won seven of their last nine in the league where they currently sit ninth, three places above the Hammers, who have won just one of their last 10.
Meanwhile, Robin Townsend believes his side’s next four games will shape their season.
Bridport Reserves host Poundbury Rovers in the quarter-finals of the Dorset Senior Trophy (1.30pm) before facing tough away trips to Chickerell United, Weymouth Reserves and Shaftesbury in the league where they currently lie fifth.
Townsend said: “We have suffered two defeats on the bounce to Portland United and Merley Cobham Sports so it is vital we turn things around and quick.
“In that respect tomorrow is a massive game, particularly if we want to win anything, and then we have three successive away games where we really need to pick up points if we want to remain in the top five, so it really is a crucial period.”
Adam Stordy, Adam Steele, Jack Scovell and Tom Richardson could all return for the Bees this weekend but Gary Bulman and Jamie Morgan are still suspended.