Royals in cloud nine after Priory win

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER continued their free-scoring trend as they beat league strugglers Christchurch nine-nil in a goal crazy afternoon of football at the One-Site Group Stadium on Saturday. In a clinical display against the Dorset club nicknamed the Priory, striker Rafa Ramos netted four goals and assisted another in a man-of-the-match display, but faced competition as his partner Lee Wort added his own hat-trick contribution as the Royals ran riot in dry winter conditions on the South Coast.

Christchurch did start well with Matt Morris and Addwell Chipangura looked dangerous on either flanks, but it was Portchester who took the lead after seven minutes with their first notable attack. Ramos showed great footwork down the left to beat his marker and played a brilliant cross to find Bradley Lethbridge, the striker connecting with a volleyed effort that beat Priory goalkeeper Miles Bartram for power into the net. Both Wort and Connor Hoare also went close with efforts as the hosts looked to assert their dominance.

But just before the twenty minute mark Portchester did double their lead as Wort got on the end of a fine cut-back, firing easily into the corner despite the best efforts of the Priory defence. It should have been 3-0 on twenty-five minutes as Lethbridge and Wort linked up with the latter’s effort hit the post, whilst the striker also volleyed wide of the post with a low shot from inside the penalty area. Shortly afterwards another good attacking move saw space open for George Barker who cut inside the left wing, but saw a curling effort brush the far post by inches with the keeper beaten.

Following half chances for Christchurch as Eder Batista and Tyrese Boscott saw tame shots saved by home keeper Konrad Szymaniak, Portchester did add a third goal on 37 minutes when Ramos used a clever stepover to beat his marker and calmly slotted into the bottom corner with relative ease. And in the final moment before half time it was 4-0 to the Royals as Harvey Aston fired home from an angle after good interplay down the right hand side; the referee blowing for the interval immediately after play restarted.

More Portchester pressure in the second period saw them score a fifth goal after 51 minutes, Wort powerfully heading home a brilliant cross by Lethbridge down the right wing into the top corner. Things soon got worse for the Priory as they were reduced to 10 men following a red card for two bookable offenses, which gave the hosts extra space in midfield and this allowed Wort to seal his hat-trick as he ran through before beating the goalkeeper at his near post with a calm finish on 58 minutes.

Substitutes for Christchurch signalled a slight respite, but Portchester did make it 7-0 just after the hour mark as Ramos’ attempted cross from the left caught the wind and floated over the stranded goalkeeper’s gloves into the net. With the match now over as a contest Dave Carter brought Ashley Harris and Jack Barker off the bench, with the two linking up to set Wort away through on goal only to fire wire of the post after 73 minutes; whilst Ramos fired wide with a low effort moments later after being found in the area.

But as the Priory legs tired, Ramos took full advantage as he scored his own hat-trick in the final ten minutes; finishing off a pinpoint Lethbridge assist by firing home into the corner past visiting goalkeeper with a simple composed finish. The away goalie further denied Barker’s low effort and a header from Wort, but there was nothing he could do when Ramos scored Portchester’s ninth goal and his fourth of the afternoon; firing home a pass from the left. This proved to be the final action as the lineman blew the whistle to end Christchurch’s misery with Portchester  celebrating a huge win that boosts their goal-difference.

After fifteen goals from their last two games, Portchester have overtaken Moneyfields into eighth place in the Wessex League season after 29 games played; although the sides around them have games in hands on the Royals’. Dave Carter’s side will now play the reverse fixture versus Bashley next Saturday afternoon at the Glen Max Stadium, before playing promotion candidates Brockenhurst seven days later. Their next home game will see them play Baffins Milton Rovers on February 26 in their final match of the month.

PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Striker Rafa Ramos celebrates after scoring one of his four goals against Christchurch, with their goalkeeper deflated despite many good saves.