Toolstation Tyers can see signs of a brighter future for his Portishead side
PORTISHEAD Town manager Alan Tyers believes his team have the makings of a true First Division force as he steels them for tomorrow’s home test with Calne Town (3pm).
While the Bristol Road basement battlers approach the fixture with only four wins from 16 games this season, recent showings have offered hope, not least the 5-1 drubbing of faltering visitors Welton Rovers in their last outing.
“We had a good strong team on show for that one and played really well,” said Tyers. “That side we had out would give anyone in our league a competitive game, but therein lies the problem.
“It’s the nature of the times we live in that you can’t get everyone playing together every week. If I could get that same line-up out there on a more regular basis, we’d turn our season around quickly, I have no doubts about that.”
Among the improved results of late, which included a 3-2 win at Chippenham Park and a 1-1 Somerset Premier Cup draw with league leaders Chard Town before bowing out on penalties, Portishead did suffer a 4-0 home defeat by Keynsham Town.
“Keynsham are a powerful team who caused us a lot of problems up front,” said Tyers. “But we created chances too, and I’d like to think had we had anything like a fullstrength side out we’d have given them a much closer game.
“Against the top team Chard, we were the better side by a long way and should have put the tie to bed by half-time. So, for me, the green shoots of a Portishead recovery are poking through and we have still to play some teams in and around us.”
The Bristol Road boss has been encouraged by performances from nine-goal Robbie Cox and fellow midfielder Oliver Henery among others.
“Robbie is a box-to-box player who played as captain for my first team at Bristol University where Oli, who is a sitting midfielder and very good at it, also played under me last year,” said Tyers, who will assess a recurring knee complaint for influential right-back Matt Cartwright ahead of the Calne clash.
Oldland Abbotonians’ new boss Jon Toy insists there are reasons for optimism too as he, like his Portishead counterpart Tyers, battles to turn their fortunes upside down.
The 16th-placed O’s travel to take on Warminster Town three places above them knowing victory would haul them level on points with their hosts. Oldland’s 3-1 home defeat by Chard on Saturday was followed by a 7-2 GFA Challenge Trophy thirdround away drubbing by Bishop’s Cleeve on Tuesday night.
Of the general picture, Toy accepted: “Things have been tough since I took charge, with seven players deciding to leave in the first week, which meant having to replace them just 24 hours before a game in order to field a team.
“My assistant (Marc Ford) and I have been working hard to bring in local talent as the squad comprised a mix of Gloucester-based players, and we have brought in a few new local lads to help bolster our squad, including striker Malick Jammeh, from Shepton Mallet, and centrehalf Dale Riley, from Cadbury Heath.
“We are looking at one or two more we can hopefully bring in over the next couple of weeks, but it’s fair to say recent results haven’t gone for us over the last nine games when we have effectively fielded different sides. Now we need to focus on stability, but Marc and I are confident we can build with the group we have now and hopefully push on from this.”
It’s all change at the top, too, at mid-table Bishop Sutton where manager David Stone, himself a one-time player-boss with Oldland before his switch to Lakeview in summer 2017, has departed.
The club’s 26-year-old central midfielder Sam Downes has taken up the reins and will orchestrate affairs for the first time tomorrow for the trip to Wincanton Town. The incoming supremo has performed with Sutton for the past six seasons, and he confirmed: “The club and Dave parted company on Sunday. We thank him for his efforts but the time had come for a change and as someone who has been with Bishop Sutton for several years now, I’m happily stepping in as player-manager.”
Cadbury Heath will strive to get their FA Vase third round encounter with South West Peninsula Premier Division visitors St Austell on again tomorrow after last weekend’s eagerly-anticipated meeting suffered a washout.
The Springfield hosts can enter it in good heart too after seeing off Ashton & Backwell United 3-0 with goals by Matt Huxley (2) and George Boon to reach the last eight of the Les Phillips League Cup on their Tuesday night travels.
“We looked a bit rusty and the scoreline flattered us a bit, but the main thing is we got in a good and important workout as we’d not played for a fortnight,” said manager Andy Black.
Heath’s Toolstation top-flight compatriots Cribbs also hope their Vase away-day with Saltash United gets the green light this time following last Saturday’s postponement.
Hengrove Athletic manager John Durbin took positives from his team’s 4-0 midweek home defeat by Weston-super-Mare in the Somerset Premier Cup, but maintained: “There can be no excuses now.”
His second-bottom side entertain Chipping Sodbury Town in the Premier Division tomorrow looking to add to their two league victories.
“We gave a decent account of ourselves against Weston and held our own well for the first hour, so 4-0 looked worse than it was,” said Durbin. “We needed a positive reaction after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Clevedon, after which we had an honest conversation with an honest group of players about where we could improve.”
Action from Portishead’s game at Wells City (blue shirts) this season