By Connor Steel
PORTCHESTER ended a ‘winless’ streak with a vital three points midweek, beating Christchurch 4-0 in the Wessex League Premier.
It came with a return to Hurn Bridge after a previous encounter was abandoned last month due to bad weather.
Goals from Conor Bailey, Lee Wort and – two – Marley Ridge helped Dave Carter’s men advance to 11th in the table following a great team performance.
But it wasn’t a perfect night as the Royals exited the Russell Cotes competition on the same evening with the U23s missing a chance to shine in a 6-1 defeat to Infinity FC in this ‘first team’ encounter.
In dry Dorset conditions, Portchester started well and should have been ahead after just 80 seconds – a low driven cross by Ridge found Wort at the back post with his effort blocked away to safety. Minutes later, the visitors had a penalty appeal turned down as George Barker was fouled in the box before Christchurch’s Matt Morris had a yellow card after a foul on away goalkeeper Steven Mowthorpe.
The home side got their first chance on 12 minutes as Eder Batista linked up with Joe Stacey down the right, seeing his shot drift wide of the far post before Ethan Maddocks’ piledriver from range on the quarter hour mark flew harmlessly over the crossbar.
On 18 minutes, Portchester took the lead after winning a corner on the right; the set piece cleared away by Christchurch defender Jamie Power to the edge of the box. Looping in the area, it fell kindly to Ridge who was lurking 25 yards out, his first-time shot smashing past home goalkeeper Sahhraj Dulai into the top corner. This advantage was doubled shortly afterwards as the Royals won a free kick in a dangerous position with a thunderbolt effort from Bailey hitting the net and almost ripping it in two, putting Portchester in a great position as the clock hit the 30-minute mark.
Although Lee Wort had a lobbed goal disallowed and saw his shot well saved by the home keeper, Christchurch refused to back down as they saw two chances before the break. The first came on 37 minutes as a long ball forward led to good interplay, ending with Morris dragging his pacey drive wide of the post. In stoppage time another chance fell to the hosts from a deep free kick played into the box and headed over by the rising captain Luke Ansell. It meant the scores remained unchanged as referee Declan Seehan blew his whistle for the break.
Portchester continued their dominance in possession upon the restart but were unable to fully turn this into chances until the 58th minute. Barker beat his marker for pace down the right side but had his angled effort brilliantly stopped by Dulai, the rebound falling to Wort who seemingly couldn’t miss. But with away staff already celebrating, determined defending from the Christchurch back-line blocked the ball three times before it was cleared to safety. The hour mark saw changes for both sides and this suited the hosts more, creating an opportunity on 62 minutes when a free-kick bounced across the area, evading the sliding Stacey, when a touch would have seen the away net ripple for a consolation.
After a flick on from Sam Pearce found substitute Joe Briggs to have a shot headed off the line, it was 3-0 on 73 minutes as the visitors won a penalty. A Portchster attacker was fouled in the box and the referee showed no hestitation in giving the spot kick. Wort stepped up and slotted calmly into the corner to triple the lead, before the striker saw his 20-yard effort saved by the Christchurch goalkeeper low down. The Royals also had a flurry of half chances before the hosts had two opportunities down the other end, with Panodou Jammen driving wide from range and right back Raf Santos heading over a corner in a mini-spell of attacking play in the final moments.
But there was to be no consolation goal for the hosts despite many set pieces including free kicks, both Zak Sharp and substitute Harvey Ashton getting yellow cards. Instead it was Portchester who added a fourth goal and added gloss to the scoreIline in stoppage time. The latter found Sam Pearce wth a floated cross to the back post, who headed back into space. Ridge was there again to fire home the final notable kick of the game as well as matching the 4-0 scoreline from their abandoned match played in early October and the clean sheet was confirmed soon afterwards by the final whistle.
While this rearranged fixture was being played, Portchester’s U23s were also representing the first team in a Russell Cotes Cup tie versus Infinity on Tuesday night. But the youngsters could replicate the result as they lost 6-1 to the Knowle-based side, despite a goal from Brandon Chebby in the first half. Two goals apiece from Jamie White and Andrew Powell put Infinity on their way either side of the Portchester effort; with further finishes from Kurt Watts and Braydon Douglas only adding to the impressive score-line. But the Royals won’t necessarily mind this defeat as it reduces fixture congestion over the winter months while offering the academy side much-needed experience in a first team environment with some impressive performances. Infinity will be celebrating the victory that avenges their 6-0 defeat at the On-Site Group Stadium and they advance to the next round with opponents unknown.
Portchester will be hosting Amesbury Town on Saturday afternoon for a Remembrance encounter before travelling to Moneyfields seven days later, hoping to build a good run of form to climb the Wessex League Premier. In two weeks there will be a local derby at the On-Site Group Stadium as Gosport come to town in the Wessex League Premier, before they play Shaftesbury on November 27. Dave Carter’s men will also play New Milton Town at the JMC Stadium in the Wessex League Cup Quarter Finals before the start of December.
PICTURED BY DORSET DOM: Portchester play Christchurch on dry winter evening on South Coast