Portchester fall down Badgers hole in loss

By Connor Steel / Photograph from AFC Portchester Media

FOLLOWING their FA Cup exit against Blackfield & Langley in midweek, AFC Portchester were hopeful that a Bank Holiday clash with Brockenhurst (nicknamed the Badgers) would give their first victory in their Wessex League campaign.

But instead the Royals fell to their first loss of the new season and second straight defeat, losing 2-1 at the On-Site Group Stadium in front of 228 supporters in summer conditions.

It was a solid start from the home side as they had the first chance of the game after nine minutes. Brilliant play down the left wing put a lifted pass at the feet of Joe Briggs, but the attacker saw his floated effort saved easily by Badgers keeper James Mayo at his near post. Portchester also had some corners but couldn’t seem to find the first man with every delivery cleared by the visiting defence.

Successfully weathering the early pressure Brockenhurst began to settle into the game with long spells of possession, which helped create their first chance on 23 minutes. A cross from the right found the unmarked Matt Sheedy who forced a brilliant save by the home keeper Steven Mowthorpe, tipping over the crossbar for a corner. From this set piece a free header by Jack Smith narrowly missed the bottom left/ It rolled past the far post as Portchester rode their luck.

But just as fans were heading for their half-time refreshments with the cagey proceedings continuing, the visitors took the lead on 44 minutes due to their dominance. Fine work saw the ball reach Silvano Obeng, who sent two Royals defenders to the floor by feigning shots before calmly firing into the bottom left corner of the net. The referee blew for the break soon afterwards and nobody could have any argument about the score-line, which perfectly reflected the play in the opening 45 minutes.

Perhaps due to a rocket at the break, Portchester started the second half well and had the next chance on 49 minutes when Marley Ridge looked to meet a cross down the left. However the youngster’s shot wasn’t on target and was easily cleared by an organised away defence before a shot by Owen Roundell from 20 yards flew harmlessly over the crossbar and into the stands behind the goal.

Brockenhurst punished the home side for missed opportunities as they doubled their lead just before the hour mark, with Silvano Obeng scoring his second goal of the game and sixth of the season. The striker was given the ball and spun his marker on his way towards goal, firing into the bottom corner with a low effort that beat Mowthorpe for pace and accuracy. It was a fine individual effort that ultimately left Portchester further behind and facing defeat for the second time in four days.

The home side brought Lee Wort and George Barker off the bench, which made an instant impact as the former reduced the arrears in the 69th minute. He collected a fine through ball and calmly slotted home past James Mayo into the corner, beating two defenders in the process with a sudden change of pace in the final third. This was a goal that gave fans some hope and further breathed new life into the contest that was in danger of drifting to a conclusion after the second Brockenhurst goal.

Wort then had an effort float inches wide in a similar move to his earlier goal, before Silvano Obeng was denied by a great save by Mowthorpe after some great Brockenhurst passing inside the penalty area. Down the other end Keiron Roberts headed a deep cross into the hands of Mayo following neat play down the left before Wort’s low cross to Marley Ridge was inches away from being converted at the far post by a visiting defender. The final chance came in the closing two minutes when George Barker was found through on goal with James Mayo to beat but had his low effort saved brilliantly by the Brockenhurst keeper as fans held their breath preparing for mass celebration.

There was no further drama as the referee blew his final whistle after stoppage time, confirming a second straight defeat for Portchester with Brockenhurst sitting top of the Wessex League table after five games played. For the Royals they have played two matches less, but sit 18th with two points out of nine. They will now travel to Bournemouth Poppies and Alton for their next league games, but first host a local derby with Knowle-based Infinity FC on Tuesday night; which will be their first game of the Hampshire Senior Cup after being given a bye in the Portsmouth Divisional Competition.