Portchester beat Hamble to cement play off ambition

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER secured another vital three points for their continuing “play-off ambitions” as they played Hamble Club on Saturday afternoon; eventually beating the ‘Monks’ two-one after the close-fought and absorbing league match in front of nearly four hundred supporters at the On-Site Group Stadium despite the ‘damp / wet’ conditions throughout.

The home side started quickly and should have scored within two minutes as James Cowan’s fine free-kick evaded the back post; whilst Brett Williams sliced wide with his effort moments later. But Portchester were not rueing these missed opportunities as Charlie Williamson opened the scoring as he rifled past Henry Newman after a good pass on the right.

Hamble attempted to respond immediately with half chances from Charlie Fox and Nicholas Yeomans both missing the target; the visitors further having a spell of possession to little avail. In comparison the Royals were looking threatening as Newman superbly denied Harrison Brook from an angle and Archie Wilcox headed inches over before the half hour.

Home momentum continued as Brook’s curled shot went wide and Wilcox again nodded over a clever free kick in quick succession; some stubborn defending from Hamble helping to limit their earlier wave of attacks. The Royals were lucky however to enter the break leading as Fox’s ball narrowly missed the sliding legs of Yeomans, who would have netted.

Dave Carter’s team came out firing upon the restart and were awarded a penalty after forty-seven minutes when Brook was pushed inside the area; the attacker standing up and calmly converting this spot-kick to make it two-nil. Will Gange was soon booked for a late tackle and Leo Taylor needed treatment for an ankle injury to offer Hamble a needed break.

And this appeared to boost the away side as they went closer to reducing their arrears on sixty-three minutes through a drive from Harvey Chogugudza, who skidded straight into the gloves of Steven Mowthorpe. This ‘opening’ was followed by substitutions across both sides during a ten minute period that was very stop-start as this game entered a slight lull.

This was suddenly broken on seventy-two minutes when Yeomans advanced down the side and threaded a good pass into the path of Braydon Douglas; the attacker sliding home a low finish. But the Monks were unable to fully push for an equaliser as Portchester held on for a huge win although they could have made it 3-1 with late chances before the end.

These three points mean that Portchester leapfrog Shaftesbury into third place in the standings; these two teams set to face off next Saturday (March 23) in a ‘massive’ league encounter at Cockrams. Attention must first however turn to the Russell Cotes Cup in midweek as they host Hythe & Dibden in the quarter finals after the tie was previously postponed.

PICTURED BY NATHAN LIPSHAM: Hamble defender tries to stop the run of home winger during this close encounter.