PORTLAND United are aiming to “produce a shock” at Velocity Wessex League Premier Division favourites AFC Stoneham tomorrow (3pm).

Kyle Critchell’s men may be sixth in the table but the Blues are already 15 points behind the Purples, who have only conceded eight goals in 15 matches this term.

Should the Hampshire side win their three games in hand over current pacesetters Shaftesbury, they will storm into a five-point lead at the top of the standings.

Portland’s form against the top sides this season has been poor, with losses sustained against AFC Portchester in the league cup and Moneyfields, following a 0-0 draw with Shaftesbury.

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And it is in this area Critchell is seeking to improve as the Blues embark on only their fifth away day of the season.

He told Echosport: “The top four sides (Shaftesbury, Stoneham, Moneyfields, Portchester) are a lot further ahead than any other teams, that’s why there’s such a clear distance.

“It does mean for us that there are lots of areas we need to improve upon because last season we gave Horndean and Bemerton really good games.

“Whereas, this season against Moneyfields we weren’t as efficient. So, lots to work on and staying in games is going to be hugely important against these teams.”

Asked if the underdogs tag could benefit Portland, Critchell responded: “I think we approach every game wanting to win it whether we’re underdogs or not.

“Over the last ten months we’ve tried to instil confidence, in that any game is winnable.

“The underdog tag does help but we put pressure on ourselves to win games and this is a game where we can win but we appreciate it’s going to be difficult.

“They’ve only conceded eight goals so far and first and foremost we’re going to have to be really resilient and make sure we stay in the game.”

He added: “On paper it definitely looks like an extremely challenging game but something we’ll go into with confidence and hope we can produce a shock.

“For me, out of all the teams I’ve watched this season they’re the most efficient and probably the favourites to go up.

“It’s going to be a challenging ask but why can’t we go there and cause an upset?”

Crit Clarke (illness) and Jamie Symes miss out, while Jack Delves is expected to recover in time from a minor hamstring strain.