A hat-trick from Keiron Roberts and a fourth from Marley Ridge helped the Royals register another win alongside their second clean sheet in a row. It was a well-deserved victory for the home side in front of 200-plus supporters at the On-Site Group Stadium, with progress setting up an away clash with Moneyfields in the Second Qualifying Stage in two weeks. This tie will not only be a local derby but will also feature the emotional return of former players and ex-manager Dave Carter to the ‘Sports Ground’ based in Portsmouth, but for the visitors rather than the home team.
Romsey started brightly and seemed determined to make a good impression on their higher league opponents, with Charlie Rattley dragging wide early on and Oliver Jenkins looking dangerous down the right side in the opening 10 minutes. But Portchester slowly worked their way into control with captain Steve Ramsey forcing a save from Romsey keeper Jordi Valero on 16 minutes with the home side dominating possession; which saw them take an arguably deserved lead just before the half hour mark.
Good work from Zak Sharp drew the left back out of position with the ball played out to Aaron McCreadie, with the winger advancing into the space behind and crossing into the box. Hot-shot striker Keiron Roberts was quickest to react and flicked a low header into the bottom corner to send home fans behind the goal into raptures. In response Romsey saw a spell of possession and a couple of corners, but were unable to force home keeper Steven Mowthorpe into a save, although Owen Holloway fired harmlessly over when well placed. Down the other end George Barker curled wide and Sam Pearce almost converted a corner, but they were unable to double their lead before the interval.
Dave Carter told his side to “move the ball quicker” at the break, which got its own reward as Portchester made it 2-0 on 49 minutes. Again it was Keiron Barker who received the ball and sidestepped his defender Brad Strickland in the box before unleashing a drive into the far corner of Valero’s goal. Ten minutes later, the striker made it 3-0 with a hat-trick when he collected the ball and ran towards goal, before sharing a one-two move with Marley Ridge. The attacker’s quick movement allowed Roberts to fire into the corner following a brilliant build-up inside the box, complimenting the pass in his celebrations to home supporters. This hat-trick adds to the one he scored against Horndean in the FA Cup (August 7).
Substitutions and warm temperatures somewhat stifled the tempo as it slowed down slightly with around 25 minutes left to play, but there were still chances for both sides. Portchester’s Tom Dinsmore fired inches wide with a curling effort and Barker’s shot was gathered by the Romsey keeper, while away captain Craig Bryant headed over a corner from the right on 78 minutes. But with tiring legs the hosts did complete the scoring in the 86th minute, adding a fourth goal many felt flattered the Royals within the overall score.
Again good build-up saw McCreadie and Lamin Jatta find Marley Ridge in space, with the youngster simply slotting home into the corner to complete a flowing Portchester move. Despite the efforts of the visitors they were unable to grab the consolation goal they richly deserved; with the hosts progressing with a clean sheet and their fourth straight win.
Although this win has secured an eye-opening derby and return of many to Moneyfields on September 25, Dave Carter is keen to impose the importance of three matches before this Vase encounter. Portchester will play Laverstock & Ford in the Wessex League Cup on Tuesday night with a much changed line-up expected, before hosting AFC Stoneham at the On-Site Group Stadium on Saturday afternoon (September 18). The Royals will then conclude their successive run of home games with a Hampshire Senior Cup clash with New Milton Town (September 21), before travelling down to Portsmouth.