FOOTBALL: Bailey eyes royal show from Portland

Dorset Echo: BANNED: Alex Halloran serves the last game of his ban tomorrow BANNED: Alex Halloran serves the last game of his ban tomorrow

THE Blues will have to be in the right mindset to see off the Royals tomorrow (2pm), according to Gary Bailey.

The first round of games after the festive break is notorious for throwing up a few surprises and the Portland United boss is determined not to be on the wrong end of one.

The islanders may have games in hand at the top of the Bespoke Teamwear Dorset Premier League but they only head the table on goal difference and can ill-afford any slip-ups.

Blandford currently lie seventh and will travel to Grove Corner with confidence, following a 2-0 win over Poole Borough, but there is a chance the weather could also intervene.

Portland’s last home game against Wareham Rangers had to be postponed following a huge hailstorm ahead of kick-off, but Bailey is hopeful there will be no such problems this weekend, despite the amount of rain that has already fallen this week.

He told Echosport: “Our pitch is generally pretty good once it drains.

“It’s only when we have those flash storms that we ever have any problems, so fingers crossed we can get it on.

“Blandford are always tough to beat and, with the league being so unpredictable this season, we are going to have to be at our best again.

“When teams come to us, they tend to raise their performance and we always have to be mindful of that and make sure we prepare properly for every game.

“Having not played for a couple of weeks over Christmas, the mindset is going to have to be right because if it isn’t, it could become a very tough afternoon.

“It’s going to be about getting out of the blocks quickly and setting a good tempo from the start, and hopefully that is exactly what we will do.”

Alex Halloran and Ross Car-michael both still have a game to serve of their respective bans, while Ed Bastick is unavailable due to university commitments.

Weymouth Reserves and Bridport Reserves are also set to return to action tomorrow but their respective managers are not so confident in regards to the weather.

Jake Richmond, who is scheduled to take his Terras to Sher-borne Town Reserves (2pm), said: “It’s looking very doubtful.

“I want it to be on because last time out at Poole Borough we were brilliant, but I just cannot see it with the weather we’ve had.

“All we can do though is prepare as normal and hope it gets the go ahead.”

Richmond is expecting to have a full squad available although there are doubts surrounding Carl McClements, who could remain with the first team.

As for the Bees, they would like to make it four league wins on the trot against Shaftesbury Town (2pm) but whether the pitch at their St Mary’s Field home holds up remains the major question.

If it does go ahead, Bridport boss Robin Townsend has his sights set on a positive start to a testing month for his team.

“January is big for us,” he said. “We want to consolidate our league position and we’ve also got a cup match against Portland coming up.

“The lads are full of confidence at the moment and there is no reason why we can’t get a result tomorrow.

“We lost 1-0 at Shaftesbury in October when I thought we were the better team and had chances to win the game.

“They have been struggling recently but we won’t be taking anything for granted.”

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