MICK Catlin and Ian Saunders are back in tandem at AFC Portchester.

After turning down the opportunity to joint-manage with reinstalled Gosport Borough boss Alex Pike, Catlin has instead accepted the role of co-boss with Saunders at the Blanchard Wells Stadium.

Together they hope to guide Portchester to promotion from the Sydenhams Premier Division.

The pair have previously worked together at Brockenhurst, Fleet and Chichester and last season Catlin stepped in to manage Winchester City on a temporary basis while then Citizens boss Saunders - nicknamed Sus - was on Army duty.

“When I left Gosport, Ian rang me and said he wanted us to work together,” Catlin explained.

“I wanted to get back into football and it seemed an attractive proposition.”

The new partnership had a setback last night when the Royals exited the Russell Cotes Cup, beaten 4-3 by Division One underdogs AFC Stoneham at the quarter-final stage.

Tom Hogan, Jack Brady, Matt Bainbridge and Scott Hills were on target for Stoneham, eclipsing efforts by Portchester’s Bobby Scott (2) and Andy Todd.

Saunders tweeted afterwards: “Wasn’t the result or indeed performance we were looking for tonight, but fair play to AFC Stoneham who thoroughly deserved their win. Good luck in the next round.”

Stoneham’s reward is a trip to the winners of next Tuesday’s tie between Fleet Town and AFC Totton. The other semi is an all-Wessex Premier affair between Andover Town and Fareham Town. Both fixtures are scheduled for Tuesday, February 20.