By Connor Steel
AFC PORTCHESTER continued their merciless streak of form on Saturday afternoon as they hosted league strugglers Alresford Town at the On-Site Group Stadium; winning eight-one after a performance to cherish in front of 407 supporters. But despite the huge scoreline it was not made easy for the Royals who were forced to wait until just before half time to break the deadlock, before a blitz of seven goals from the last 30 minutes saw them extend their advantage to eight points at the Wessex Premier summit as other teams failed to win.
Proceedings kicked off after an impeccable Remembrance ceremony with Alresford creating the first opening on seven minutes; Nicholas Yeomans creating space for an effort that was straight at Portchester goalkeeper Steven Mowthorpe from the left wing. In response the Royals saw Ryan Wilkins’ header cleared away off the line before Brett Pitman fired straight at away shotstopper Kieran Connell; players from both sides seemingly struggling to pick out long passes given the lowering November sun that bathed a big majority of the ground.
On seventeen minutes Harrison Brook was played into the area and saw his skidded effort saved by Connell, whilst Pitman brushed the post from a similar position just moments later as the hosts sought to seek control. And following a quieter period of patient but effective interplay Pitman went close in the thirty-sixth minute of play, Charlie Williamson lofting his ball to the striker whose attempted hook towards goal drifted over the bar; George Kirby advancing into midfield for Alresford moments later but he fired harmlessly wide from an angle.
The deadlock was broken in the 40th minute as Portchester played some neat passes down the left side and saw a looping cross reach Pitman who simply nodded home inside the bottom corner for one-nil. This opener sparked a sense of panic in the Alresford backline with the Royals nearly taking full advantage in added time, Brook running down the wing and playing an inch perfect delivery into Pitman; the attacker seeing a skidding shot deflected out for a corner that sadly proved to be the last noteworthy action before the half time interval.
Alresford were level within two minutes of the second half after good work released Yeomans into space, the winger making no mistake in curling past Mowthorpe to make it one-all. But from this exact point Portchester simply dominated as they awoke from their slumber and retook their lead after Williamson was tripped inside the area on fifty-eight minutes; Pitman doubling his tally as he sent Connell the wrong way in a goal that saw the visitors make substitutions in order to keep themselves within contention for a highly positive away result.
It was three-one on 63 minutes when Williamson played a deep pass over the away defender and it matched the brilliant run from Brook, the winger calmly chipping his shot over the advancing Connell inside the bottom left corner. A fourth arrived with twenty left to play when George Barker twisted two markers and found Brook to slot home via a slight deflection; the fifth and killer finish coming when Pitman linked up with the substitute Scott Jones who was able to place a shot inside the right corner to start his Royals account after 71 minutes.
Pitman sealed another hat-trick following efforts from Jones and Barker as he made absolutely little mistakes in slotting past the now frustrated Connell at his far post for six-one, adding his fourth finish of the 90 minutes when a low cross was placed into the corridor of uncertainty and he easily tapped home to seal a seventh for Portchester. And this breath-taking goal spree was concluded after Pitman saw one disallowed; a good cross finding Jones who sent his free header spinning into the top corner after 88 minutes as the visitors collapsed.
A brilliant afternoon for the Royals was confirmed when fellow results started to emerge including Bemerton’s home one-all stalemate with Horndean, which sees Dave Carter’s team extend their hard-earnt advantage at the summit with big games looming over the coming weeks. Their next two league encounters are both away from home as they travel to Pagham next Saturday (19/11) before Portchester play Brockenhurst seven days later, whilst their Senior Cup tie against Harvest Home is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 22.
PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL PHOTOGRAPHY: Home striker nets one of eight goals in blistering spell of finishing from Portchester, which helps them extend their big lead at the league summit after other results.