Royals draw blanks in season opener

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Daniel Haswell (AFC Portchester Media)

AFC PORTCHESTER were made to wait for their first goals and victory of their 2021-22 campaign as they were held to a goalless draw away in Southampton on Tuesday evening; with the Royals struggling to break down a stubborn Hamble Club defensive unit in their Wessex League opener.

This was despite many chances for the Royals, who were also denied a penalty just after the half time break while Hamble hit the post on an overcast evening at the Community Facility Stadium.

Portchester began well and saw early pressure almost get rewarded as captain Steve Ramsey fired over the crossbar after two minutes, with Lee Wort’s turn and shot smothered by the Hamble goalkeeper Jack Martin down low. Keiron Roberts was looking dangerous and should have been given a penalty, but his appeals were denied by the referee. Down the other end Hamble looked threatening on the break, with Danny Phillips and Sam Woodward going close before the half-hour mark.

Although Portchester went close with a free kick from Keiron Roberts and Sam Pearce looped a header over the bar, arguably their best chance came 10 minutes before the break. Left back Conor Bailey broke down the wing and crossed into the box, with the ball diverted back across by Roberts into Wort who headed inches wide of the near post as the Hamble goalkeeper stood stranded.

It was the last chance of a cagey first half despite the many attacking chances of both sides.

Portchester started the second half well and another penalty appeal was denied after Keiron Roberts was hauled down inside the box, sparking huge disapproving views towards the referee. Moments later the visiting captain Steve Ramsey picked out Lee Wort, but his header was clawed out of the top corner by the gloves of Martin in the Hamble goal.

As substitutions for both sides disrupted the flow James Cassell went close for the visitors with a low drive that drifted wide. But Portchester responded with an even better chance on 70 minutes as Lee Wort’s headed effort was cleared off the line by Prince Mclean with the away contingent preparing to celebrate a goal.

The visitor’s final chance came from Sam Pearce in the final moments of the match; a free kick finding the head of the centre back but sadly bounced the wrong side of the right post with everybody beaten.

Hamble almost snatched the three points as Filippos Terzidis skimmed the base of the post with a low skidding effort, but ultimately the game drifted into a goalless draw as both sides did seem to settle for this result. It seemed that neither side wanted to lose their first game of a new league season, but new Portchester manager Dave Carter will likely rue the two penalty appeals and may be concerned about their lack of goals in recent days. Although the defence has seen two clean sheets in succession, the Royals have now drawn two blanks as their finishing touch has lacked its normal clinical nature of late.

Portchester will hope to turn chances into goals as they play Wessex League rivals Horndean FC in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon (3pm), believing they can progress to the Preliminary Rounds with a victory at the Crest Finance Stadium. The Royals will then play Fareham Town on 17/08 in the first El-Creekio, with a home tie versus Infinity in the Hampshire Senior Cup planned seven days. Hamble Club will play Wiltshire-based Corsham FC on Saturday afternoon at their ground in Southampton.