Baffins consign Royals to defeat

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER fell to a second straight league defeat in four days as they lost 3-1 to Baffins Milton Rovers on Wednesday night.

It leaves Dave Carter’s men stuck in mid-table after a shaky start to their campaign that initially saw them as promotion favourites.

Played in dry but chilly conditions at the PMC Stadium, the hosts were simply more clinical than the Royals in this local Portsmouth-postcode derby encounter, scoring twice in six first half minutes and then absorbing away pressure before a third goal killed off the tie to hand Portchester a fifth defeat from 14 games.

After a period of silence for Armistice Day next week, both sides had chances in the first 10 minutes in an even opening period in front of 207 supporters. On seven minutes Portchester saw a clear opportunity as George Colson’s cross found Sam Pearce, whose header flicked harmlessly wide of the post. Down the other end Baffins created their first opportunity moments later; James Cowan and George Britton linked up well with the latter’s cross finding Harry Sargeant, whose header was caught comfortably by away keeper Steve Mowthorpe.

Portchester then had a spell of dominance with two further openings before the 20th minute of play. Firstly a long ball found George Barker who jinxed inside to have his shot blocked by defender Ed Sanders for a corner down the right, while Marley Ridge’s shot was saved by Konrad Szymaniak down low at the keepers near post following good work between the Royals’ midfielders. Lee Wort then reached a dangerous cross but couldn’t connect and the ball trickled to safety. These missed chances were rued by the visitors as Baffins scored an opener after 27 minutes.

Former Portchester assistant manager Lee Molyneaux charged down an attempted clearance with the ball falling kindly to Milos Everett, whose first time effort flew into the back of the net with help from the crossbar to spark celebrations amongst the home supporters. These cheers were doubled just after the half hour mark when Baffins made it 2-0, Everett turning provider as his in-swinging cross was met by the head of the returning Sargeant who angled the ball into the far post despite the best efforts from the Portchester goalkeeper, Steven Mowthorpe.

Stunned at their sudden predicament, Portchester looked to get a goal back before the break with home shotstopper having a busy last 10 minutes of the first half. Good play saw Jake Raine find space to advance forward and have his powerful drive tipped away, before Lee Wort forced Szymaniak into another save as he danced through the defence before failing to convert via the goalkeeper’s legs.

In truth Baffins had the better chance to get a third goal in this contest as Charlie Williamson found Sargeant in space with a long ball forward only for the striker’s effort to be cut out by a recovering defender, the referee blowing for the interval soon afterwards to end an even 45 minutes despite the scoreline.

Portchester came out in good attacking positions and have a half chance after 47 minutes when Conor Bailey’s free kick was whipped into the penalty area from the right but missed everyone in orange before floating for a goal-kick. On the counter attack, Baffins went forward with a long ball finding Rudi Blankson through on goal but he was pulled down by the Portchester keeper while preparing to shoot. Loud home appeals for a penalty were turned down by the referee and linesman on the far side.

Moments after Blankson fired wide under pressure, Portchester were given a lifeline as they scored their first goal on 58 minutes. A low cross caused chaos and goalmouth scrambles, with the final touch from a Baffins defender allowing the ball to cross the goalline – much to the relief of the Royals who felt unlucky to be two goals behind. Michael Carter and Owen Roundell then had half chances missed as they piled on the pressure, with proceedings slowing down slightly to allow for substitutions by the home side with approximately 20 minutes left to play and temperatures dropping around the open-air stadium.

On 73 minutes, Portchester wasted another golden opportunity to equalise as Barker was played through on goal with a wonderful pass and looked destined for the net only for the winger to fire harmlessly wide of goal into the night skies. The visitors began to get frustrated after this as both Adam Tomasso and Wort were yellow carded by the referee. He also denied Baffins a penalty as Alex Przespolewski looked to be fouled in the box, with their second penalty appeal turned down again.

With seven minutes of normal time left, the visitors had their final notable attack as the ball was worked to the lurking Wort, his shot blocked and landing at the feet of Barker who fired wide from a corner. Substituions then followed for Portchester with five minutes left before Wort was lucky not to see red for a late tackle as he closed down the Baffins keeper, who needed treatment by the medical team as a result. This killed off any Portchester momentum and Baffins took advantage in added time to make 3-1, a counter attack finding Przespolewski in space. He confidently rounded Mowthorpe before converting inside the bottom corner with the last kick of the game consigning the Royals to another away defeat by an exact scoreline to last Saturday’s Blackfield loss.

The three points allows Baffins to leapfrog unbeaten Hamworthy into third on goal difference, but now face a quiet period with one game in 17 days versus high flying Brockenhurst next weekend at Grigg Lane. For Portchester they need to regain control of this alarming slide to 12th in the Wessex League, hoping to arrest away form as they travel to Cowes Sports this Saturday. Two home games at the On-Site Group Stadium then follow for the Royals with Infinity and Amesbury quickly follow before November 14, with a Remembrance event before kick-off against the latter next weekend.

PICTURED BY BAFFINS CLUB MEDIA: Home celebrations as they seal the win on Wednesday night