PORTLAND United face their biggest test for two months when hosting AFC Portchester in the Velocity Wessex League Premier Division tomorrow (3pm).

On paper, the fixture pits against each other two sides currently in the play-off positions, Portchy in third and Portland in fifth.

However, Portchester have been promotion contenders for the past two seasons and last year missed out by a single point.

There is also widely accepted to be a step up in class between the top four and the chasers, Portland currently best of the rest.

READ MORE: Portland United 1-1 Hamble Club - report

Speaking ahead of facing Portchester, who beat the Blues 3-0 in the League Cup on Hallowe’en, Portland boss Kyle Critchell was in no doubt as to the size of the challenge ahead.

He told Echosport: “We’re coming up against a very physical, strong and direct side in Portchester.

“It’s going to be a really tough challenge for the young lads to come up against, also an exciting challenge for them to gauge against where they currently are.

“I feel like the top four clubs are way ahead of the rest and we sit at the top of the pack behind those teams.

“But, we’re at home, so we’re going to set up to try and be positive, but at the same time we’ve got to respect their threats.”

Asked how much Portland can learn from the cup loss to Portchy, Critchell replied: “We can take an awful lot from the game with regards to that evening.

“If we are clinical with our gameplan and actions then we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

Portland do go into the game on a run of five matches unbeaten.

“Yes, we’re confident, but we also understand where we’re currently at,” Critchell said.

“We’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves, this game won’t define our season.

“However, it would be nice for people watching if we are to get another victory at home, or even a point. We’ll go in looking to cause an upset, because I think that’s what it would be.”

Portland are fully fit other than striker Greg Borthwick, who has returned to training after a groin injury.

Critchell added: “Greg’s going to start some light work with a view to getting some minutes for the reserves in a couple of weeks.

“That’s really exciting for us to see him back on the field and I know that will give a lot of other players confidence to play well and more competition.”

Elsewhere, Portland’s reserve team beat Bridport Reserves 3-1 on Wednesday night with goals from Josh Camp, Lance Wilson and Jack Delves.