SWINDON Town’s Under 18s start their Merit League campaign on Saturday when hosting Portsmouth at Stanley Park in Chippenham (11am).

Positive performances in the Youth Alliance South-West division ensured Town finished in the top half of the 11-team league, granting the club a spot in Merit League One for the remainder of the season.

Other teams include Bournemouth, Oxford, Northampton and Farrell’s former team Peterborough.

David Farrell’s are unbeaten in their two outings against Pompey’s youngsters so far this season.

In October, Town came out on top in a nine-goal thriller in Hampshire before Portsmouth secured a 1-1 draw in Wiltshire two months later.

And building on those two performances is something the Town youth boss wants to see his players achieve.

“They (Portsmouth) are a good side, and they improved a lot during the first part of the season.

“It was a hard game at our place last time, and we were perhaps a little bit fortunate to come away with a draw.

“They like to pass, and it will be a good challenge for our team.

“We’re entering the unknown a bit as some of the team’s play in the south-east league, which we obviously haven’t been a part of the first part of the season.

“But we’ve played the top six teams in our region, so we know the standard we are likely to face.”

There might be cause for added motivation this week in the Town youth squad after academy graduate Scott Twine secured a two-and-a-half year contract at SN1 following a string of appearances for the first-team this season.

The 19-year-old, who was born and raised in Swindon, has been immediately sent out on loan to League of Ireland side Waterford to gain additional experience before building on his career at the County Ground.

“If Scott’s fresh contract is what motivates them, then that’s absolutely fine by me,” said Farrell.

“Different things motivate different players, but they can’t afford to think too far ahead.

“They have to plan the day ahead and the game ahead, and making sure they do what is expected of them.”