THE Blues will have to be at their best to see off Hamworthy Recreation tomorrow (2pm), according to Gary Bailey.
Rec’s recent form has been staggering and they will go to Grove Corner this weekend full of confidence.
Not only have they won their last eight in all competitions but they have also racked up 39 goals and kept six clean sheets in that time, making them the Dorset Premier League’s form side.
That run has moved Rec on to the same number of points as Portland and just one adrift of leaders Merley Cobham Sports.
The Blues do still hold two games in hand on both their title rivals but know defeat tomorrow would see them surrender their slim advantage.
Portland boss Gary Bailey told Echosport: “Games between us and Hamworthy Rec are always closely contested affairs and this one is unlikely to be any different.
“It will be down to who produces the goods on the day.
“They are a very good side with some excellent players who always try to play the game the right way.”
The Blues have not seen action since December 21 whereas Rec last played on January 18 when they beat Cranborne 4-0 in the Dorset Premier League Cup.
Commenting on that situation, Bailey added: “It’s not ideal coming into a game like this on the back of four postponements on the trot but all the players are itching to get back playing again and are raring to go.
"This is the type of game everyone wants to be involved in.
“The lads have been training well and I am sure we will give a good account of ourselves, although we know we will have to be on top of our game if we are to get a positive result.
“Hopefully, we will see some action this weekend but with more rain forecast for today, we are once again in the hands of the weather.”
Portland, who were the last side to beat Rec back in October, will be without Ross Carmichael and Alex Halloran through suspension.
Merley’s title aspirations also face a tough examination this weekend in the form of a home clash with Weymouth Reserves (2pm).
The fourth-placed Terras are also just a point off the top but need to win this game, having played more times than the three teams above them.
Jake Richmond has added Conor Jevon and Brad Asagba to his ranks and is looking forward to this weekend’s challenge.
The Weymouth boss said: “Conor and Brad have come over from Poole Borough and I am delighted to have them both on board.
“Conor is one of the best young prospects in the league while Brad will give us that bit of experience we have been lacking sometimes in the midfield.
“Both players will go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game at Merley and hopefully we can go there and put in a big performance.
“We drew 2-2 with them earlier in the season after going 2-0 down.
“We were shocking in the first half of that game but in the last 30 minutes we battered them and should have gone on to win it.”
When asked to comment further on the 19-year-old, Richmond added: “There were several other clubs in for him and he is definitely one for the future.
“He scored 14 goals in 16 games for Poole Borough and I have told him to give me two years to help him develop.
“He is left-footed, pretty quick and decent in the air. He also has a good first touch and is sharp on the turn.
“Although he is over six foot, he does need to work on his upper body strength a bit but that will certainly come.
“I just want him to relax and enjoy the rest of the campaign and then we will look to really push him on next season.”
Bridport Reserves are also scheduled to be in action tomorrow at home to Blandford United (2pm).
The Bees suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at Cranborne last time out and will be desperate to make amends.
* Weymouth reserve-team boss Jake Richmond would like to thank personal trainer Neil Carter and the Riviera Hotel for their continued support.
Carter has been putting the Terras through their paces since pre-season while the Riviera has been supplying the club with top-quality facilities in which to train in.