PORTLAND United interim boss Gary Bailey suspects Shaftesbury will provide a “stern test” when the Blues travel to Cockrams in Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division action tonight (7.45pm).

With both sides closely matched in the standings, Portland could leapfrog the Rockies, who lie 11th – two points and two places above Bailey’s men, with a victory.

Speaking to Echosport about the encounter, Bailey labelled Cockrams a “tough place to go” as he looks to collect three points from his first game in temporary charge.

He said: “Shaftesbury are a good side. I saw half the game against Portland at home. It’s a tough place to go and it’s a good set-up.

“It’ll be a stern test of an evening. I’m still getting myself abreast of everything. They’re there or thereabouts in the league.

“They changed managers a few months ago and they’ve been on a good run. To be honest, I’m not that well up on their style.

“Our focus is going to be on us, we’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing. We’ll have to adapt to the opposition as and when we come up against them, but from what I can remember they try to play.”

After seeing Saturday’s clash with Blackfield & Langley postponed due a waterlogged pitch, Bailey was unmoved.

“You do all the preparation for the game. It’s frustrating, but that’s the nature of it.

“We’re not the only ones in that boat and we’ve just got to go again and plan for the next game, these things happen,” he said.

Bailey oversaw his first training session on Thursday and was buoyed by his squad’s diligence.

He said: “We’ve had an hour with them. Training was sharp and everyone put a good shift in. We came away pleased with what we saw, but it’s work in progress.

“We worked on a few organisational things that we feel needed bringing into it. We’re looking forward to getting that first game under our belts.

“We want to win every game, but we’re realists and football people at the same time.

“We’ll set up and approach it to try and get a win in every game we go for, but we know that we’re not going to win 15 from 15 at the end of the season.”

Portland have no injury concerns but will be without the unavailable duo of Ross Doidge and Sean Zima.