By Connor Steel
ON THE DAY that AFC Portchester celebrated winning an award and also paid tribute to big club legend Steve Woods, their long unbeaten run finally came to an end as they narrowly lost two-one versus Bashley at the On-Site Group Stadium on Saturday afternoon. In a tight and occasionally cagey league encounter played in dry conditions, clinical finishing proved a real difference in a match that sadly didn’t match up to pre-match activities with fans watching on.
After receiving recognition for support given in lockdowns and a minute of applause to mark the one year anniversary of Steve Woods’ death, the match kicked off and started in a cagey fashion; neither side wanting to make an early mistake as the first chance fell to Portchester striker Lee Wort when he fired wide under pressure after twelve minutes. In response Harry Bunce saw his low effort saved by home keeper Steven Mowthorpe in Bashley’s 1st notable chance after 18 minutes.
The visitors went even closer as Ben Atiako-Hall flicked the side netting following a cross by Dan Thompson down the left, before Bashley won a penalty on 25 minutes as winger Jamie Webber’s run was halted illegally in the area. Luckily for Portchester the goalkeeper dived to his left to stop Adam Grange’s spot-kick, but there was nothing the number one could do as the away striker converted just sixty seconds later as he bundled home a cross from the left.
Portchester equalised after thirty-two minutes as great interplay ended with a Harvey Aston through-ball finding Rafa Ramos, who slotted past former Fareham keeper Ross Casey with ease at the far post. The striker nearly doubled his tally as a long ball was flicked on by Wort to find his partner in space, but his powerful effort drifted harmless over the bar. In a last part of action before half-time Grange headed wide, the officials ending the first period at one-all.
In truth the opening stages of the second half were limited in attacking action as both teams cancelled each other out in a midfield battle; Portchester seeing the first clear opportunity in the 65th minute after a yellow card for Curt Da Costa. It started as a long pass by Ridge fell to George Barker, whose mazy run beat two defenders and created space for a low shot that went just past the post. Substitute Bradley Lethbridge also saw a powerful shot go just over.
But Bashley continued to look good on the counter attack and won a dangerous free-kick as Webber was fouled just outside the area on sixty-nine minutes, but this opportunity was soon missed as the effort went over the crossbar. In response Portchester began to dominate and control the flow of proceedings, both substitute Lamin Jatta and Lee Wort going close in very quick succession. Another Lethbridge effort was further smothered by Casey with ten left to play as Portchester tried to clinch a winner.
But instead it was Bashley who took the lead after 83 minutes as Webber collected a brilliant long ball and ran through the defence before firing home into the corner to make it two-one. The score did almost become three-one as Bue Bennett headed wide under pressure from a Portchester player before Bunce saw his powerful shot drift over the bar. The final action of a scrappy affair saw Zak Sharp sent off for two bookings as the visitors held on for the huge win.
Following this defeat, their first since November against Gosport Borough, Portchester have fallen to ninth place in the table after other results saw Moneyfields leapfrog their postcode rivals. The Royals will hope to bounce back to winning form as they travel to Alresford on Tuesday night at Arlebury Park before hosting Dorset-based Christchurch next Saturday; with the two sides meeting again in a fortnight in the reverse league encounter at the Glen Max Stadium.
PICTURED BY ALEX SHUTE: Rafa Ramos scored for Portchester but was left frustrated as they lost two-nil versus Bashley at the On-Site Group Stadium.