Portchester exit Vase with derby defeat

By Connor Steel / Photograph from Moneyfields Media

AFC Portchester exited the FA Vase at the second qualifying stage on Saturday afternoon, losing 2-0 against Portsmouth-based Moneyfields in a highly exciting derby at Dover Road.

In an attacking game featuring two Wessex League rivals, it was a disappointing return for Dave Carter as his former club were simply more clinical than their visitors and ‘Moneys’ ultimately deserved the win in front of a large crowd.

The mind games between the two clubs before kick-off didn’t seem to affect Portchester, who started brilliantly on a pitch that suited their passing style. They created their first chance after five minutes after playing multiple balls into the penalty area, before a loose pass from defender Robert Evans was incepted by Lee Wort. But the striker’s low shot was saved by Moneyfields goalkeeper Thomas Price, before Aaron McCreadie fired wide under pressure moments later.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic as the hosts looked dangerous down the other end; Bradley Norton forcing a great save by Royals’ shot-stopper Steve Mowthorpe at his near post as Harrison Birmingham headed over a set piece on 13 minutes down the right side. But moments after these near misses, the home side took an early lead as Steve Hutchings rifled into the corner with a low effort following good wing play down the left side on 17 minutes.

Portchester attempted to immediately respond, coming close to an equaliser as the clock hit 23 minutes.  Marley Ridge’s shot was only palmed away by the home keeper Price, with a defender clearing the ball away to safety before Wort could get a toe to the rebound. As the game reached the half hour mark, Conor Bailey and Hutchings saw yellows as this derby became less sedate with some late tackling from both sides.

The last 15 minutes before half-time were fairly limited in chances; both teams settling down and cancelling each other out after an attacking start. However there was two half chances for the Royals as George Barker looped over the bar with a rising header before a blocked shot from Owen Roundell was cleared away. Down the other end Moneyfields should have been 2-0 on 44 minutes as a cross was deflected into the path of James Franklin, with the attacker’s shot flying harmlessly over the crossbar from close range; the referee blowing for the interval shortly afterwards.

Portchester came out firing after the break as Bailey was played into space down the right, but sadly his effort was straight at the home goalkeeper from an angle. On 53 minutes Keiron Roberts fired wide after being played in by Wort, whilst Ridge was the victim of a cynical tackle that saw a home midfielder booked for the late foul on the hour mark. Moneyfields then went down the other end and broke forward in numbers, with only two blocks from Curt DaCosta denying Matt McGlinchey doubling the home advantage.

Substitutions for Moneyfields broke up the play just as Portchester were looking good in possession with 25 minutes left, but the Royals were often guilty of misplacing the final pass or crossing too deep into the penalty area. They did have two half chances as Sam Pearce drove at the penalty area but shot wide, before George Colson’s cross was deflected into the side netting down the right. On 77 minutes the visitors doubled their lead in a killer blow as Declan Seiden’s cross was fired home by Hutchings for his second goal of the afternoon, arguably ending this cup tie as a contest.

Portchester made a triple change as Lamin Jatta, Steve Ramsey and Thomas Dinsmore all came off the bench; offering fresh legs but no end product despite Jatta firing wide on 82 minutes after good work down the left wing. Moneyfields were simply more clinical with their attacking moves as Hutchings nearly sealed a hat-trick, but headed over the bar from close range in the final notable action of the game. The referee blew his whistle after three minutes of stoppage time, ending the Royal’s short run in the FA Vase following a similar 2QR exit to US Portsmouth in the 2020-21 campaign.

Portchester’s new cup exit means that they can focus on the Wessex League campaign, with three matches upcoming in the next ten days. Another local derby will see the Royals play Horndean in a Tuesday night encounter at the On-Site Group Stadium, before they travel to strugglers Christchurch next Saturday afternoon with a 3pm kick-off time. They will then play bottom side Hythe & Dibden the following Tuesday as a busy start to October continues. For Moneyfields they will host US Portsmouth on Tuesday night in another Portsmouth based derby.