By Connor Steel
THREE LOCAL CLUBS were in action on Saturday afternoon across the region as they all participated in the 2nd qualifying round stage of the Isuzu FA Vase; with extremely mixed results for AFC Portchester, Fareham Town and Fleetlands in the popular non-league competition that will conclude with a trip to Wembley in 2023.
East Cowes Victoria 1-8 AFC Portchester
Dave Carter’s team started brilliantly on the Isle of Wight as they opened the scoring through Ryan Pennery who headed home following good work between Brett Pitman and Marley Ridge. The latter doubled the lead on 22 minutes as his shot nestled into the corner before making it 3-0 with a skidding effort 10 minutes later.
Pitman tucked in a fourth goal just before half time and made it five-nil on 53 minutes with his header from a James Cowan cross-shot; sealing his hat-trick seven moments later as he tapped home a whipped low ball across goal. Both teams then made substitutions with the score now 6-0 and proceedings over as a contest.
A seventh goal arrived for Portchester on 66 minutes as George Barker tucked in a cross down the right from ten yards, whilst Pitman made it eight-nil with minutes left as he chased down a long ball before firing home. There was also a consolation goal for the home side in stoppage time, but the visitors had done the damage.
Fleetlands 0-3 Bemerton Heath Harlequins
It was a historic day at Lederle Lane as the Coptermen played their first ever Vase match following 2021-22 promotion from the Hampshire Premier League, but it didn’t get off to a perfect start as they conceded within four minutes; Reece Rusher converting a spot kick with ease following handball from a rising home defender.
The winger was soon involved in the second goal for Bemerton on fourteen minutes, his corner reaching the head of Steve Walker in the penalty area. In response Fleetlands saw Dale Mason and George Gregory go close with varying attempts but were unable to fully test away goalkeeper Patrick Creese despite their effort.
Second half proceedings were quieter as both teams settled into a midfield battle with Fleetlands refusing to crumble against higher league opposition as substitutions disrupted their attacking momentum. And with just moments left to play Nathan Connolly added the third for Bemerton as he ran through before slotting home.
Bradford Town 0-0 Fareham (4-2 on pens)
Having impressed in the Vase over recent years Fareham travelled to Wiltshire for their second game of this year’s competition, but failed to make an early impact as it took 30 minutes for the first chance of the game. It fell the way of Fareham as Jack Breed saw a shot cleared; Mail Benjamin firing inches wide as a response.
A scrappy affair continued into the second half although Josh Benfield fired over and Charlie Cooper sent his volley wide of the near post. In response Bevon Cross and Harry Rutty went close in the final twenty minutes as either team could have won the match, which finished goalless after allocated time and penalties loomed.
Bradford scored all four of their penalties after deciding to take first, sending away keeper Luke Deacon the wrong way on each occasion to keep the pressure on all the Fareham attackers. Although Ethan Jones and Casey Bartlett-Scott scored their spot kicks, efforts were saved from Breed and Keiran Clark to seal defeat.
Saturday’s results mean that only Portchester progress into Monday’s next round draw, with details set to be released after lunch with fixtures set to be played in early October. For Fareham and Fleetlands the attention must turn to league action in the next couple of weeks with their hopes of a big Wembley final over for 2023.
PICTURED BY FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION: Vase trophy stands at Wembley Stadium as non-league teams dream of a famous trip in 2023, with only Portchester still in the local running following the weekend results.