Royals bounce back with narrow Blackfield success

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER bounced back from their ‘disappointing’ Saturday defeat as they hosted Blackfield & Langley on Tuesday evening in a Wessex Premier match; narrowly beating their ‘Southampton-based’ rivals one-nil at the On-Site Group Stadium as they were nearly punished for missing brilliant opportunities in front of over two hundred supporters.

The hosts started brighter under overcast skies and created the first opportunity within four minutes of proceedings as Josh Benfield fed Marley Ridge, who lashed over the bar from range. Minutes later Jake Raine found Connor Bailey in space and the latter shot wide from an angle; whilst Harrison Brook forced away keeper Mike Edgar into a diving save.

Blackfield were under pressure and this caused more mistakes in the defensive third; a theme that was exploited after twelve minutes as Benfield stole the ball off a defender’s backpass and then converted into the net. It could have even worsened for the visitors as Ryan Wilkins and Brook saw chances to double this lead before the half hour to little avail.

However the visitors did slowly work themselves into contention with patient possession and this gave them a platform to attack; Brandon Corrigan sprinting at goal and lacing wide after 34 minutes. This was proceeded by Ethan Cheshire nodding inches wide of the right posts moments later whilst Benfield came close with his deflected effort in added time.

Dave Carter’s side continued to attack upon the restart as Brook’s cross was headed just over the crossbar by Wilkins at the left post, before the winger jinxed his way past a defender and saw an effort deflected for a corner after fifty-four minutes. But Blackfield weren’t scared to push men forward and they saw Corrigan have his shot saved by the keeper.

Another massive chance for Portchester arrived just after the hour when Raine and Bailey again linked up well to feed Benfield inside the area; the attacker nodding the crossbar with a flicked header. Substitutions followed across the two teams before openings were squandered by Blackfield; both Corrigan and Jack Mann dragging wide in great positions.

Extra space appeared to appear for the Royal’s front players and they seemed intent of exploiting it; Edgar denying an effort from Ridge and Bailey in the final fifteen minutes. And the hosts held on for their victory despite a nervous period of attacking moves from Blackfield that saw Mitchell Wood’s shot being denied by Steven Mowthorpe in this last action.

These three points have lifted Portchester to third position in the current league standings, although Moneyfields have two matches in hand due to recent postponements. The Royals now face a run of away games that start with a visit to Bournemouth Poppies this Saturday, before they travel to Laverstock & Ford and Gosport Borough in early December.

PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: A home attacker prepares to send drive on target as Blackfield defender looks on.