By Connor Steel
AFC PORTCHESTER marked their return to Wessex League Premier action on Saturday afternoon with a victory over Lymington Town; beating the division’s bottom team three-nil with a professional away performance in the ‘New Forest’ and furthermore extending their winning streak to nine league matches despite an enforced ‘hiatus’ over recent weeks.
After an ‘impeccable’ period of silence to mark Armistice Day it took just three minutes for Portchester to score an early goal through Ryan Woodford; the defender simply guiding home inside the corner from Marley Ridge’s cross. The lead was nearly doubled shortly afterwards as Lee Wort headed against the posts with George Barker missing this rebound.
Lymington saw an opening when their right winger cut inside and fired straight at Steven Mowthorpe, but Dave Carter’s team reasserted their control and should have doubled their lead after twenty minutes. The chance came from Harrison Brook down the left as he linked up with Wort inside the penalty box, but lashed his shot over the bar from close range.
The visitors continued their dominance with Wort and Woodford both missing good chances in quick succession, whilst Archie Wilcox forced a good save from the Lymington keeper on forty-four minutes as he found space for a ‘long-range’ effort. Down the other end a couple of attacks came to nothing for the hosts who struggled through to the break trailing.
Both teams started slowly upon the restart with the away team arguably looking brighter in possession, Woodford soon doubling the Royals’ lead on fifty-four minutes as he nodded into the net from close range. In response the hosts had a brilliant opportunity to reduce these arrears as Mowthorpe was forced into a great diving stop from a powerful free kick.
Proceedings then seemed to drift into a slight lull due to injury stoppages and substitutions; the visitors nearly making it three-nil as Josh Benfield collected a long ball and saw his fine effort deflected away. But this was soon followed by the crucial third goal scored by Jake Raine, who side-footed home into the left corner to kill the encounter off as a ‘contest’.
The last fifteen minutes saw multiple chances for Portchester to score the fourth as Charlie Williamson and Barker had various drives that didn’t test the keeper; Benfield furthermore seeing a low effort fly wide of the target after 85 minutes. Attention then turned to keeping another clean sheet, which the visitors achieved despite late pressures from the hosts.
Other results from Saturday mean that Portchester stay fourth in the current table after thirteen games to date although they are only 4 points off the summit with three matches in hand. They are due to host AFC Stoneham next weekend at the OnSite Group Stadium, but are first scheduled to visit Christchurch in the Hampshire Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
PICTURED BY NATHAM LIPSHAM: Lymington player drives away from a Portchester midfielder in a rare home attack.