Keep your standards high throughout – that’s Petersfield Town manager Connor Hoare’s message as his side face possibly the biggest challenge of their return to the Wessex Premier.
Next Tuesday they travel to AFC Stoneham, one of four outstanding sides chasing the title. In their first 13 games they netted 50 goals and conceded just eight.
Hoare said: “I’ve been to watch them three times this year and they are relentless. The way they defend, the way they attack, there’s no doubt why they are one of the favourites to get promoted and win the league.
“They have serious quality throughout the whole team and squad, but we can match them and compete with these sides. It’s about doing it for 90 minutes and that’s what these top sides do.
“They are fast, they are strong and they are really balanced. They can play direct, they can play possession-based football. They are a top side. It’s definitely a good test for us but they love tests. In our other games against the top four the lads have shown 100 per cent that they can deal with it, and it’s about continuing to deal with it.”
Petersfield lost 4-2 at Millbrook in the Wessex League Cup on November 7 and 2-1 at Laverstock & Ford in the league last Saturday.
At Wessex Division One Millbrook the Rams went 2-0 down. After three minutes Mark Barker outpaced Charlie Merritt with a darting run inside before shooting over the stranded Jay Morris.
In the 20th minute a floated free kick was headed out to the back post where Jake Bartlett struck a shot into the far corner.
Harrison Cable halved the deficit just before half-time. A pass into the area was not cleared, and as Harvey Aston attacked the loose ball it fell kindly for Cable to slot it under the keeper.
A stunning Tommy Tierney free kick squared the game in the 81st minute. A fair way out, he bent the ball over and around the wall into the top corner despite a glove from the keeper.
But in the 92nd minute Mahlon Mason tapped home after finding space in the box, and a minute later Jamie White buried the rebound after a fine Morris save.
At Laverstock & Ford the Rams led on 14 minutes when Tierney robbed the hosts’ left-back, cut inside and slotted under the keeper. Centre-back Adam Bourner won the ball back and equalised with an effort which was parried but went in off the post. In the 73rd minute Tommy Campbell-Simms hit a cross from the left wing which fell into the top right corner as Morris battled with a striker at the back post.
Petersfield have a home league game against Christchurch on Saturday.