Report by Connor Steel
Photograph courtesy of Daniel Haswell, AFC Portchester
IN THEIR first pre-season outing of the 2021-22 campaign, AFC Portchester were ultimately outclassed by Southern League Premier outfit Salisbury FC on July 3 as the Royals prepare for the upcoming season.
Losing 4-1 after 90 minutes arguably wasn’t the fairest outcome for the visitors at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium on an overcast Saturday afternoon, matching their higher league opponents throughout the match and managing to get some positives before playing Gosport Borough this weekend.
Royals who started the better
It was the Royals who started the better as Dave Carter gave the large travelling contingent their first insight into the club’s new direction throughout lockdowns.
Backed by the loud Arancione support, Lamin Jatta and George Barker caused issues with swift dashes into the channel, allowing Marley Ridge space in the middle. The youngster saw the best chance for Portchester on 15 minutes when he connected with a cross and attempted to switch onto his stronger foot, which allowed the Salisbury defenders to clear with the goal gaping.
The home side then asserted some dominance after a shaky start, taking the lead on 19 minutes when a long ball found their right back. He sent a low cross into the feet of a trialist/unknown attacker to slot home into the far corner past the stranded Portchester defender, despite the best efforts of Curt De Costa’s diving clearance as the ball went over his head.
In fairness the Royals did get a series of set pieces, but were unable to carve out any further chances as 30 minutes passed.
Penalty to Salisbury
On 33 minutes a passage of play saw the Salisbury left back run down the wing as an overlap, entering the penalty area where he was abruptly stopped by a Portchester defender. The referee awarded a penalty to Salisbury to little appeals, which was scored by Charlie Davis sending the ball into the top right corner sending the keeper the wrong way. This was the final notable action of the opening 45 minutes as both sides tired – not a big surprise with some players not having had a match since November/December.
This lull and ‘pre-season’ nature continued into the second half; misplaced passes and shots going wayward seemed to break down any real attacks in the final third. Substitutions for both sides didn’t help the momentum, but at times there was some good passing and movement off the ball with the game seemingly drifting to an inevitable conclusion with 15 minutes left.
Salisbury made it 3-0 shortly after 77 minutes as a good passing move saw new signing Dylan Jones collected a cross from the wing. He then touched the ball down on the floor and shrugged off the defender, before unleashing an effort into the top corner from 20 yards to make an instant impact on his new home supporters and completed a great debut.
Goal from nowhere
To Portchester’s credit, they did get a goal from nowhere when a long ball was cleared into the path of Mickey Finch. The young debutant then advanced towards goal and chipped a low effort over the keeper’s head into the bottom left corner; a reward for the Royals who had never given up throughout the 77 minutes of play.
The final goal came with seven minutes left when Portchester attempted to play out the back of defence, giving the ball away to the pressing Salisbury attacker. A neat exchange of passes in the penalty area fell to an unknown attacker, who controlled the ball and fired an angled shot into the corner to seal a 4-1 home win as the sun began to shine amongst the clouds.
Despite the result Portchester can be happy with their performance and in the knowledge that many players got some energy into their legs after a long hiatus from the pitch.
Video highlights and clips can be found on Veo | Salisbury FC v AFC Portchester, courtesy of Salisbury Football Club’s media team. As fans will see, it wasn’t a perfect display or one for the neutral, but this is understandable and the Royals will only get better over time as they play several pre-season friendlies before August.
This run of games start with a trip to Gosport Borough next Saturday (July 10) in the Memorial Cup, with tickets available to buy at the gate and online. It kicks off at 3pm at Privett Park, before hosting Borough at the Crest Finance Stadium six days later and AFC Totton on July 24.
Portchester are currently due to visit Hamble Club in their first game of the league season on August 3 (Tuesday), with all games provisionally confirmed pending a board meeting in mid-July.