Portchester clinch crucial Hamble Club victory

By Connor Steel / Photograph by AFC Portchester Media

AFC PORTCHESTER recorded a welcome win in the Wessex League Cup on Tuesday night, beating rivals Hamble Club 4-0 in a clinical and professional display from a strong starting eleven.

The damage was done in the first 49 minutes as the hosts exited the competition with a whimper, allowing the Royals to comfortably progress to the quarter finals to leave manager Dave Carter delighted after a string of difficult results.

Kicking off in dry but chilly conditions in Southampton, Hamble started well in possession and created the first opportunity after just one minute. Good work from Callum Davies down the left side saw his cross reach Sam Woodward, but the striker’s looping header was easily caught by Portchester goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe from close range. Minutes later a low driven effort by Lewis Nagle flashed past the post after being put through by Liam Crook in space; with both these missed opportunities punished when Portchester took the lead with their very first attack.

On seven minutes a long ball over the top found Sam Pearce in a wide position, with the defender’s pin point cross finding Lee Wort at the back post to smash home a calm composed volley into the bottom corner. This lead was nearly doubled five minutes later when Ryan Pennery fired inches wide of the post after turning his marker 25 yards out, before a free-kick was placed harmlessly over the bar from range. In the 24th minute George Barker hit the woodwork after collecting the ball inside the box and jinxing past his defender, but sadly his shot was always rising and couldn’t nestle into the top right corner.

Not that this mattered for long, as Portchester doubled the lead in the 32nd minute to get their reward, which came from a corner after a cross was cleared. However the set piece was inch perfect and the delivery caused chaos inside the box, the ball hitting all angles of the posts as Hamble were unable to clear. This lack of clinical defending allowed Pearce to convert from seven yards out to make it 2-0 as he beat Hamble keeper Callum Lee, whilst an injury stoppage was needed for the hosts saw Craig Hunt replace Josh Nance and Woodward fired wide a drifting effort in the final move before the half time whistle was blown.

The second half started with Portchester in full control and they should have been 3-0 ahead in the 47th minute when Steve Mowthorpe’s clearance found Pennery’s feet via a Pearce flick on. However the striker rushed his shot when well placed and fired over the crossbar from an angle, but got the perfect opportunity to make amends on 49 minutes as his side were awarded a penalty. George Barker was tripped inside the box, which allowed Pennery to fire home the spot kick into the bottom right corner and send Lee the wrong way in the Hamble goal.

It was 4-0 to Portchester soon after with a brilliant goal, which started on the left wing with Adam Tomasso. The midfielder floated his cross over the defender’s head to find Steve Ramsey at the back post, with the captain’s volley skidding off the dew-laden surface into the corner at pace leaving the Hamble shot-stopper with no chance. Portchester should have made it 5-0 just before the hour mark as Pearce found Pennery with a fine pass into space, but the striker’s low driven shot was brilliantly saved by Lee between the home sticks.

Substitutions, injuries, and related stoppages signalled a slightly quieter period before the game entered the final 20 minutes with the result already settled. But to Hamble’s credit they continued to push in attack, with Lewis Nagle forcing the Royals’ keeper into a smart save and Tom Green’s low driven shot floating just inches away from the near post.  On 82 minutes the hosts went even closer as they won a free kick approximately 30 yards out, with Nagle’s curling effort smashing the bar in the final chance for Hamble. Down the other end Portchester threatened but seemed to settle for a much-needed clean sheet, with Wort heading over a great Pearce cross and substitute Chebby going close to his first goal for the Royals; the referee blowing for full time shortly afterwards.

Portchester will hope they can translate this cup victory and clinical finishing into the Wessex League Premier with home games over the next two weekends. They will host a tough test versus Alresford Town on Saturday afternoon (October 16), before playing local postcode rivals US Portsmouth one week later on October 23. In-between these two ties the Royals will host Knowle-based outfit Infinity in the Russell Coates competition, having thrashed the same opponents 6-0 in September. For Hamble they have a weekend off due to FA Cup ties but will face pace-setters Hamworthy United in the league next Tuesday night as they hope to correct recent form that has seen the Monks concede 10 goals in two matches.