Alton outclassed by Royals’ strikers

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER continued their unbeaten run and completed a league double over Alton in the 2021-22 campaign, thrashing their North Hampshire opponents 5-1 at the On-Site Group Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a fantastic performance. Goals from Steve Ramsey, Lee Wort, Sam Pearce, and a double from Rafa Ramos sealed another win for Dave Carter’s advancing team, with only a late goal from Alton’s Rob Carr preventing a perfect ninety minutes played in dry but overcast conditions.

Portchester made a dream start after just sixty seconds, winning a penalty after Lamin Jatta was fouled in the box; home captain Ramsey firing home past the Alton keeper into the corner to give his team an early lead. Not content the Royals continued to attack as Lee Wort attempted to round the keeper only to be denied by a defender, before Jatta’s shot was blocked and cleared by a defender in the area. On 20 minutes Wort was played through on goal, but dragged his shot wide of the post.

The Royals were rewarded for attacking persistence as they got their second after 24 minutes, great play from Ramos saw him beat Matt Benham down the right and his cross into the corridor of uncertainty was met by Wort to slot home easily. A third goal for Portchester almost arrived just before the half hour as Jatta tested the Alton keeper, before the shot-stopper produced a brilliant stop from the resulting corner as Pearce rose highest to the Ramsey delivery six yards out from goal.

In truth the last ten minutes of the first half were a lot quieter in comparison, although both Ramos and Wort again went close to tripling Portchester’s lead. Down the other end Alton had more of the ball in search of a route back into this game and saw their opening chance on 38 minutes as George headed wide a cross down the right. Good work between Oliver Page and Billy Wright.  led to the final chance of the first half in stoppage time, the latter’s low effort saved well by Steve Mowthorpe.

Alton continued to have more possession as the second half begun and had a chance on 51 minutes when Steven Black headed over a corner from the right side, whilst Carr fired over when well placed on the left. In response Portchester defended well and created their next opportunity just before the 60 minute mark, Ramos collecting a long ball forward with his chest and advancing towards the goal. Sadly his effort was blocked at source, with the striker’s rebound going just wide with the net gaping.

Portchester did get their third goal after 64 minutes as Ramos collected a pass and unleashed a shot that nestled into the bottom right corner from 20 yards, his first goal at home after his fine debut in Fareham twelve days earlier. In response to the 3-0 scoreline Alton pulled one back after 77 minutes as Carr was alert to the rebound after Graham’s shot was blocked, finishing into the top corner form 10 yards. Another away chance for the visitors saw a loose pass reach Benham, whose shot was saved by a combination of the grateful home goalkeeper and Olly Searle, who was thanked by his teammates for his efforts.

The hosts made it 4-1 on eighty three minutes as a cross was played into the penalty area following quick thinking, finding the unmarked Pearce to head into the top corner past a defender on the line; sealing the three points for Portchester. But the goalscoring wasn’t complete as Ramos made it five-one with the last notable action in stoppage time, firing home a close range finish past Alton keeper Edward Lang’s despairing dive into the corner to end a fine attacking move down the right hand side.

Portchester’s big victory means they rise to 8th in the Wessex League Premier table after twenty-four matches this campaign, building a gap of four points to Alton in the standings. Dave Carter’s men will now play Hartley Wintney in the Hampshire Senior Cup semi-finals on Tuesday night at the On-Site Group Stadium, before facing two away trips to AFC Stoneham and Amesbury Town in three days starting next Saturday. A home clash versus Bashley will end January, with the Royals hoping to boost an unbeaten run that stands at eight games since losing to Gosport Borough in November.

PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Rafa Ramos fires through a crowded penalty area in Portchester’s five-one victory over Alton on Saturday afternoon.