Royals snatch point with last gasp Brockenhurst goal

 By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER salvaged a late point from their last match this year as they hosted rivals Brockenhurst FC in the Wessex League Premier on Saturday afternoon; eventually drawing two-apiece against their fifth place opponents after this entertaining and feisty encounter watched by a gate of over five hundred supporters at the On-Site Group Stadium.

The Royals adapted quicker to the windy conditions and should have scored after sixty-five seconds as Lee Wort found space from a long pass; the striker taking a heavy touch to present Brockenhurst keeper Amad Skrzyniarz with an easy stop. Josh Benfield then fired wide and Scott Jones nodded over a corner from Connor Bailey as the hosts started well.

Brockhurst soon began to assert themselves and suddenly made it one-nil in the sixteenth minute when Silvano Obeng advanced forward before unleashing an effort from thirty yards that nestled into the far right corner. And this match then worsened for Portchester as they were reduced to ten men on 22 minutes; Benfield getting his second yellow for a foul.

The visitors took full advantage and doubled the lead before the interval as Obeng scored his second of the match; the attacker converting Adam Grange’s pass in under the crossbar. But the Badgers were pegged back immediately as the hosts cut their arrears on 44 minutes through Bailey, who was faster to pounce upon a fine cross and easily shot home.

Dave Carter’s team came out strongly upon the restart and created multiple chances to level the score; both Jones and Wort forcing great saves from Skryiniarz before James Cowan saw his curled drive fly harmlessly wide. Down the other end Brockenhurst looked dangerous with Ben Atiako-Hall setting up Marcelo Rossi who had his shot blocked at source.

Substitutions across both teams followed alongside a flurry of yellow cards; Brockenhurst having a loud penalty appeal rejected by the referee after tricky feet from their winger with fourteen minutes left. This was followed by a great chance for Bailey at a free kick; the diving keeper doing well to deny his initial effort whilst Ryan Wilkins dragged high and over.

The home side however kept pushing and clinched the deserved equaliser on eighty-nine minutes; Jones finishing off a good passing move and nestling across the keeper for two-all. And this proved to be the last notable chance of this wet afternoon despite a period of stoppage time; both teams having spells of pressure in brilliant areas but lacking intensity.

Other results on Saturday mean that Portchester are fourth in the table after twenty matches and it will stay unchanged going into 2024; the Royals having a ‘hectic’ schedule due to previous postponements. They start the New Year with a local postcode clash versus United Services Portsmouth on Wednesday night before hosting Sherborne next Saturday.

PICTURED BY NATHAN LIPSHAM: Lee Wort unsuccessfully attempts to beat defence and goalkeeper to loose cross.