AFC PORTCHESTER fell to their third league defeat in the 2021-22 campaign as they travelled to unbeaten Hamworthy United FC on Saturday afternoon, losing 3-0 against the Hammers in Dorset sunshine with clinical finishing sealing the victory for the hosts.
But despite the margin Dave Carter’s men will look at the positives of the 90 minutes, in which the Royals matched the title favourites for long periods and deserved greater rewards for their efforts.
Portchester started well and won a corner after 67 seconds that created their first opportunity, the set piece falling to the lurking George Barker who fired inches over the bar with a fiercely struck volley. The midfielder went even closer on seven minutes when he was played through by Steve Ramsey’s pass, but had his shot brilliantly stopped by home keeper Tommy Scott down low.
At the other end Hamworthy had the best opportunity on 17 minutes as a free kick by Edward Hodge hit the post, leaving fans wondering if the effort was an attempted cross or deliberate shot on goal. One minute later the home crowd were celebrating as Hamworthy took the lead following a defensive error within the Portchester backline. A low cross into the box down the right wasn’t dealt with and fell kindly to the advancing Max Wilcox, who easily slotted home beating away shot-stopper Steve Mowthorpe at his far post. This advantage was quickly doubled on 24’ when Portchester attempted to pass out from defence under little pressure, giving the ball away to the pressing Jack Lovell; who ran towards goal on the artificial pitch surface and smashed home a second Hamworthy goal to make it 2-0 to the hosts.
Portchester’s frustrations were beginning to show and threatened to boil over just before the half hour mark when they believed a penalty had been given. Ryan Pennery had broken free inside the box and looked to be tripped as he prepared to shoot, with the referee putting his whistle to lips but turned the appeals down following a quick look at his linesman on the sidelines. Moments later Marley Ridge fired wide with a long-distance effort while Lee Wort headed over from George Colson’s cross.
In the final five minutes before the break, Hamworthy nearly tripled their lead through a combination of Lee Francis and Cameron Munn in attack. The winger beat two defenders and played in his fellow striker but the powerful shot took a deflection and looped safely into the gloves of Mowthorpe in the away sticks. However this entertaining opening 45 minutes was marred by a serious looking injury, which stopped play for several minutes due to treatment, with the referee blowing for the break soon after restarting. Hamworthy would have been the happiest, with the Royals rueing missed opportunities and defensive mistakes, leaving a mammoth task in the second half to get anything from this encounter.
In fairness Portchester started the second half brilliantly as they passed the ball with increased pace and showed greater movement off the ball, which saw Wort and Barker have shots on target against the Hamworthy goalkeeper who easily gathered the threat. On 56 minutes a free kick for the hosts was hit too hard and evaded the crowded penalty area for a goal kick before a home corner from the right saw a goalmouth scramble that was ultimately cleared to safety by the Portchester defence.
Substitutions meant a slight lull in proceedings on the hour mark, but this didn’t stop Jake Raine getting booked for Portchester after a niggly tackle on his attacking number and a booking for a Hamworthy player for dissent following a decision. The visitors then went close on 66 minutes as a long ball landed at the feet of Pennery, whose quick feet created space for a rising shot grazing the crossbar. With the match slipping away, recent signing Adam Tomasso (formerly from Totton) was also cautioned by the referee for a misjudged tackle, the resulting free-kick ultimately coming to nothing as it drifted out for a goal kick down the left side.
Hamworthy made it 3-0 on 80 minutes with Wilcox getting his second of the afternoon, firing home inside the post following great work in midfield to open up the space. Portchester will feel this was arguably against the run of play after further chances for Lamin Jatta and Pennery, but they responded well with the game arguably over as a meaningful contest. The Royals’ made two chances with Zak Sharp and Tyler Giddings, which gave them greater energy that nearly translated into a consolation goal on 91 minutes. The two substitutes linked up down the left to set up Wort in space, with the striker’s effort after great feet blocked on the goal-line by Hamworthy defender Tony Rolls; protecting a clean sheet that was confirmed by the referee shortly afterwards to end the game.
Following this clinical defeat in Poole the Royals have slipped to 13th in the Wessex League Premier after nine games (three wins, three draws and three losses), although they have matches in hand after cup fixtures and weather-related issues at Christchurch last weekend. Portchester will now travel to Hamble Club for a League Cup tie on Tuesday night before hosting three home games in 10 fixtures. This includes visits from Alresford Town and US Portsmouth in the league, while Infinity will be another clash in the Russell Coates competition that is returning to the non-league calendar after a year’s absence due to Covid-19.