By Connor Steel
AFC PORTCHESTER continued their recent fine form in derbies as they played struggling United Services Portsmouth (USP) on Saturday afternoon; the Royals completing a comfortable home victory against their local postcode rivals with an “excitingly” professional performance in front of a gate of over three hundred supporters at a warm On-Site Stadium.
The home side started quickly under sunny skies and took an early lead after four minutes as debutant Mitchell Parker played a deep ball into the area; Lee Wort controlling the delivery and hitting a low shot into the bottom right corner. In response USP saw great link up play between Simon Woods and Jimmy Walters; the former firing wide of the far post.
But Portchester began to exert control on proceedings as they nearly doubled their advantage on fifteen minutes when Marley Ridge was threaded through; the midfielder forcing a fine save from USP keeper Logan O’Donnell before Ryan Woodward nodded wide. This was followed by a quick break in proceedings as both teams sought water in warm heat.
USP seemed rejuvenated after the stoppage and thought they had equalised after 29 minutes when Luke Richards hit the post with a powerful effort; the hosts going straight up the other end and won a penalty as Wort was fouled. Parker netted this spot kick to make it 2-0 and this was how it stayed at half time despite multiple chances across both outfits.
Dave Carter’s side continued to dominate possession upon the restart and saw Ridge’s low drive brush the side netting on forty-eight minutes; Wort and Parker then going close with separate efforts. But they weren’t rueing missed chances as they did add a third goal on the hour mark; Parker converting a shot past the diving O’Donnell into the far left corner.
Substitutions soon followed from both managers and this appeared to inject some energy into USP with Junior Camara forcing a comfortable stop from home keeper Steven Mowthorpe; Will Ayre seeing this rebound blocked at source. And the visitors were punished as Portchester made it four-nil with their next attack; Harrison Brook easily firing into the net.
This match was undoubtedly drifting towards its conclusion with fourteen minutes left but there was still time for USP to gain their deserved consolation goal as Portchester switched off briefly. It came as Tom Rolls nicked the loose ball off a defender and netted past the keeper; the score staying 4-1 at the end despite chances for both Wort and Brook late on.
Other results mean that Portchester sit eighth in the current standings after a ‘slow’ start and follows the now confirmed FA Cup expulsion due to fielding an illegible player alongside their recent defeat in the FA Vase. The focus now turns to knockout football on Tuesday evening as they travel to Bashley for their ‘rearranged’ Hampshire Senior Cup encounter.
PICTURED BY NATHAN LIPSHAM: Lee Wort passes the ball away from the spirted defender in Portchester’s 4-1 win.