By Connor Steel
AFC PORTCHESTER returned to ‘winning form’ and celebrated their first match in 2024 on Saturday afternoon as they hosted Sherborne Town in the Wessex Premier League; comfortably thrashing their mid-table opponents six-one with a stylish and lightening attacking performance in front of over three hundred supporters at a cold On-Site Group Stadium.
The hosts set an early tone as they opened the scoring after just seventy seconds; Scott Jones latching onto a fine ball before expertly firing home for one-nil. Sherborne were dealt a further blow due to ‘injury’ before James Cowan sent his drive over the crossbar and Lee Wort saw his effort blocked at source by a defender; the hosts keen to add a 2nd goal.
And it did not take long for Portchester to double this lead as Jones converted a pass from George Barker after twenty-four minutes; this finish coming after more opportunities for Wort and Ryan Woodford. But the home team were pegged back moments later as Archie White advanced into space for Sherborne and calmly slammed home to halve the deficit.
Both Ollie Hebbard and Josh Williams saw opportunities to make it two-apiece either side of the half hour mark, before Barker was denied by Sherborne goalkeeper Liam Norris low at his near post on 36 minutes. Another goal was coming before the interval and it arrived in stoppage time for Portchester; Ryan Wilkins sending his shot into the corner for 3-1.
Any lingering dreams of a Sherborne comeback evaporated within fifty seconds of the restart as the Royals added their fourth goal through Wort; the striker cutting across a fine ball and nestling into the net from close range. But the visitors never gave up and forced home keeper Steven Mowthorpe into a brilliant stop, diving to the left to deny a great header.
Jones completed his hat-trick after sixty-three minutes when he lashed home a cut-back into the bottom corner, a finish that made it five-one and thus killing this match as a meaningful encounter. Substitutions followed across both sides as Wort and Izziaga Kaba were put through in separate attacks within a couple of minutes but they did not hit their ‘target’.
Cowan further saw a curled free-kick float inches over the crossbar with seven minutes left and then his drive deflected into the path of Matt Paterson, who turned and spun an effort wide. But the hosts finally got their sixth in additional time and completed their sublime rout as Harrison Brook received a skidding cross before firing across inside the net for six.
Other results and weather related postponements on Saturday mean that Dave Carter’s team remain 3rd in the current standings, but more importantly end a run of just one win from five since early December. All attention now turn to huge away games versus Christchurch in the HSC and Blackfield & Langley in the league to be played before next weekend.
PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Home attacker keeps possession as he drives forward under cold but sunny skies.