AFC Portchester face a midweek replay against Wessex League rivals Blackfield & Langley (B&L) as the sides clashed in the FA Cup Preliminary round on Saturday afternoon, with both teams cancelling each other out over 90 minutes at Gang Warily in overcast conditions.
The Royals did take the lead into the half time break before an equaliser for the hosts sealed another game to decide who progresses to the next round of the competition in early September; this is due to be held on August 24 at the On-Site Group Stadium (7.45pm).
Blackfield & Langley started the better and did score after two minutes when wing-back Chia Khider found space down the right. The attack saw him beat a Portchester defender and float a cross into the path of Wayne Robinson at the near post to slot home. After the players and crowd had finished celebrating, the linesman raised his flag and the effort was disallowed to loud disapproval from the home crowd of 115 spectators.
Portchester in their blue kits then settled and played a great play of possession after this early warning shot, but were dealt a blow when Lewis Fennemore suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Thomas Dinsdale after 11 minutes. Moments later the Royals saw their first shot as Keiron Roberts cut inside onto his left foot, seeing his curling effort land in the gloves of home keeper Amadeusz Skrzyniarz from 25 yards. Another chance came from a corner after 17 minutes as a corner missed everybody, with arguably a slight touch needed to give the visitors an one-nil lead.
And Portchester did take the lead after both captain Sami Makhloufi and striker Flavio Tararez went close, scoring in the 38th minute of play. Good passing saw the ball played to the recently booked Steve Ramsey, whose effort was deflected and fell kindly to the dangerman Roberts who simply tapped into the unguarded net past the stranded keeper against his former club.
It should have been 2-0 on 43 minutes as Marley Ridge beat two defenders before cutting back to Dinsdale, whose shot was blocked at source and cleared to safety. Three minutes later the youngster was found in space but his first time shot whistled past the far post in another good attacking move by Portchester. An arguably even first half was ended by the referee, but not before he had booked Harvey-Joe Bertrand for a tug on an advancing Royals attacker in additional stoppage time.
After the interval B&L started out on the front front with Wayne Robinson firing over within the first 45 seconds after the restart. He was then booked five minutes later, as was Portchester’s Sam Pearce before the defender turned into a one man team to stop the home side from scoring. Firstly he blocked an effort from Luke Gray before producing a fine tackle to deny the pacey Tavarez when through on goal, having to be careful given his yellow card and timing his moves perfectly to get rewarded.
Substitutions and bookings caused a slight lull in proceedings around the hour mark, but B&L seemed to spark into life with fresh legs in the 70th minute. Tavarez fired wide when well placed whilst a substitute fired straight at new Royals goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe moments later as the home side began to push higher up the pitch with 15 minutes remaining.
This tactical switch immediately made an impact as Portchester were caught out trying to play out from the back, with a loose ball reaching the dangerous Sami Makhloufi who advanced towards goal. The attacker took one touch to compose his body before calmly slotting home to equalise under the newest Royals signing, joining from Chichester City in midweek.
Although B&L did see a corner miss everybody at the far post, it was the visitors who looked the most likely to score in the final minutes. A free kick from George Barker hit the wall and away for a corner that was headed over the bar from substitute striker Lamin Jatta at the far post. In stoppage time another free kick was delivered into the box but was cleared away to safety; with the referee blowing for the end of the match shortly afterwards.
The one-all draw doesn’t do any favours to either side as they play again on Tuesday night, with FA Cup replays now back onto the calendar after being scrapped for the 2020-21 season. This extra match also means that other games have been moved in the diary for Portchester, whose cup tie with Infinity FC has been moved by seven days to August 31. In turn this has pushed the Royals League Cup home tie versus Laverstock & Ford will now take place on September 21, Next Saturday’s home league tie versus Brockenhurst remains unchanged.
Furthermore, a plan has been put into place for a game to be played on September 4 regardless of the result on Tuesday night. If Portchester win at the On-Site Group Stadium, they will play in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round with opponents due to be decided in Monday lunchtime’s draw. But should they exit England’s famous competition, they have organised a trip to Bournemouth Poppies with a 3pm kick-off time on the South Coast. The league game away against Hythe and Dibden has now been pushed back to Tuesday, October 5.
Tickets for all three Portchester home games against Blackfield and Langley, Brockenhurst and Infinity can now be purchased from the club at https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/afcportchester/payments.