Portchester outline credentials in Shaftesbury victory

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER outlined their early title credentials in the Wessex Premier League as they hosted Shaftesbury in a ‘top of the table’ match on Saturday afternoon; the Royals narrowly beating the ‘leaders’ two-one at the OnSite Group Stadium after a hard-fought success in front of over six hundred supporters to build on their “outstanding” winning form.

Under warm skies it was Portchester who created the first chance after six minutes through Ryan Wilkins; the defender controlling the possession and firing harmlessly over the crossbar. This was followed by possession for the visitors just moments later as Greg Peel and Brett Pitman linked up, but the latter’s low effort dragged wide against his former side.

Shaftesbury endured a huge scare on eighteen minutes when a low cross was deflected towards his own goal by Liam Farrugia; the away keeper Kai Storr doing well to claw from his line at ‘point blank’ range. But Portchester weren’t to be deterred with further chances seeing Connor Bailey blaze over the bar and Lee Wort brushed the post on the half hour.

The pressure finally told after thirty-six minutes as Portchester made the breakthrough through an ‘unexpected’ source; Archie Wilcox reacting quickest at a set piece and nestling into the corner for one-nil. And this was how it stayed at the half time interval despite a half chance for Wort in stoppage time; the hotshot striker cutting inside but fired inches over.

The home side continued this momentum upon the restart and nearly doubled their ‘advantage’ as James Cowan’s fine corner was headed wide by Issiaga Kaba on fifty four minutes; Marley Ridge driving wide moments later. But it was the visitors who got the second goal of this afternoon through a penalty which was easily converted by Pitman on the hour.

This leveller gave Shaftesbury further confidence in attack with Pitman nodding a cross straight at home keeper Steven Mowthorpe and Louis Kellaway fired wide from a cut-back on sixty-eight minutes. Down the other end Wort was denied well by Stoor after a free-kick before substitutions followed across both sides, the scores still level with ten minutes left.

Proceedings looked to be drifting towards a draw with both sides having multiple set-pieces and spells of possession to little avail; Peel slicing wide on eighty three minutes in a limited opening. But Portchester did get their winner in the final minute as a scrappy period of play allowed space for Wort, who buried home a rebound after a driven effort was saved.

Defeat means that Shaftesbury have fallen to second in the current standings with Moneyfields sitting top of the league after eleven games, whilst Portchester are third following their sixth straight victory. Dave Carter’s team will now look to extend this excellent form when they host Christchurch next week, but will first travel to US Portsmouth for the RC Cup.

PICTURED BY NATHAN LIPSHAM: Shaftesbury defender attempts to halt an attacker as home side clinch late winner.