Badgers beaten by brilliant Portchester

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER produced one of their best performances of the 2021-22 campaign to date on Tuesday night, beating fifth-place Brockenhurst three-nil in the Wessex League Premier at Grigg Lane. In chilly but dry conditions Lee Wort was on the scoresheet against the Badgers to bring him closer to the 40 goal mark this season, adding to an early goal from Curt Da Costa and a second from Felipe Barcelos as the Royals’ closed the gap on the top seven with just six games to play.

Portchester made a fast start and took the lead after two minutes as they won a corner, with George Barker’s delivery causing chaos in the penalty area; falling to Da Costa who bundled the ball over the line past Brockenhurst goalkeeper Matty Taylor. The visitors, buoyed by this early goal, continued to dominate and should have made it two-nil shortly afterwards with good work from Barcelos finding Barker in space through on goal who forced a brilliant low save from the home keeper.

Brockenhurst created their first chance in the sixteenth minute as Keiron O’Donnell played a deep cross that was met by Christie Ward who headed wide, before Dan Panesar-Dower fired over from twenty yards following good work down the right five minutes later. Down the other end Jake Rudy rose highest in the penalty area at a corner but his header was saved by Taylor; before Marley Ridge saw a shot blocked at source on twenty-six minutes by home defender Joe Stacey.

But undeterred Portchester continued to pile forward and doubled their lead just before the 30 minute, with midfield pressing winning the ball in midfield. It was quickly worked into Wort’s feet and the striker released Barcelos who made no mistake in rounding Taylor to convert calmly. This lead was almost tripled before the break as Wort sent Barker through on goal but saw his shot well blocked on the line, whilst Pat Wilson drove over a curling shot in additional time.

Brockenhurst started the better after the interval with Seung-Woo Yang forcing a low save from the Portchester goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe, before a similar chance arrived on 53 minutes as fine and incisive passing released Mitchell Speechley-Price who also saw his shot blocked by the keeper’s left leg from an angle. In response Sam Pearce went close for Portchester as he firstly saw one header float over the crossbar via a deflection, before seeing a second bounce just wide of the far post just before the hour mark as Ridge also fired over the crossbar with a rising curling effort.

Substitutions for either side signalled a slight lull in proceedings after the hour mark, but this didn’t stop Brockenhurst from nearly pulling one back on 66 minutes as good work on the overlap released Addwell Chipangura down the left; his cross volleyed wide from Ward at the near post. With twenty minutes to play came another home chance as Wilson and Speechley-Price linked up; the latter’s low effort hitting the side netting with Mowthorpe beaten for both pace and power from an angle.

And the Portchester goalkeeper turned into provider on 74 minutes as he collected a cross before an ambitious long ball bounced over the home defence. Wort was quick to beat the defender for pace and found himself through on goal, side-footing underneath the outrushing keeper to make it three nil. This killed the game off as a contest as proceedings petered out to a conclusion despite Wort going close again with a driven effort and Ward firing straight at Mowthorpe in the final notable action.

Portchester remain eighth despite this brilliant result and performance that stretches their unbeaten streak to four league games going into a double header of local derbies in the next week. Firstly they will play Moneyfields at the On-Site Group Stadium in a rare Friday night encounter, before travelling to Fareham Town on Tuesday night in the Wessex League Cup semi-finals; a large crowd expected to attend for the El-Creekio match with more than bragging rights on offer.

PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Portchester continued their unbeaten league run to four games with a comfortable three-nil victory at Brockenhurst, closing the gap on the top seven with another three points.