By Connor Steel
AFC PORTCHESTER continued their brilliant start to the season as they hosted AFC Totton at the On-Site Group Stadium on Tuesday night, beating the Southern League outfit two-nil to seal progress into the next round of the Hampshire Senior Cup. Pushed forward by a respectable crowd of 180 supporters goals from Harvey Beckley and Liam Robinson in either half sealed victory under dry skies; this scoreline reflecting a dominant display of football from Dave Carter’s team against their opponents sitting in the divisions above.
The hosts started well with Jake Raine firing over an effort on five minutes and Ryan Wilkins being unlucky not to connect with a volley inside the area; Totton responding with their own chances when Yemi Odubade drove a ball into Jake Adams who drove at the home goalkeeper from close range as Brett Williams drifted his effort wide under pressure on 11 minutes. A final chance of the opening fifteen minutes saw Seung-Woo Yang and Jordan Ragguette link up but the latter’s effort lacked power as it slowly trickled wide of the posts.
An end-to-end trend continued as Harrison Brook saw his effort blocked at source by a defender, whilst Yang had his snapshot saved comfortably at the second attempt from Steven Mowthorpe on twenty-three minutes down the other end. But following this frantic start proceedings seemed to settle down towards the half hour mark with both sides having sustained possession in attacking areas of the pitch, but were unable to convert this into meaningful goal-scoring opportunities as defenders proved to be dominating most individual battles.
Williams headed over the crossbar from close range on 34 minutes as Totton also saw Oduabade brush the side netting moments later following good play on the right. The visitors further had a number of corners that were cleared away by Portchester, who had a penalty appeal turned down on forty minutes for handball. Not that this mattered as the hosts took the lead in stoppage time as Ryan Pennery proved to outrun his markers before playing his whipped cross into the back post to find Beckley, the youngster heading past Giulio Girelli.
Trailing one-nil at the interval Totton made a substitute as Freddie Read replaced Jireh Oyebamiji who sadly struggled with a slight knock, but this didn’t seem to halt a mixed start for the visitors upon the 2nd half. The 48th minute saw Luke Hallett drive over from range after a fantastic midfield tackle turned to counter attack before Connor Ings hit a powerful effort that was blocked at source, but it was unexpectedly Portchester who scored their second goal on fifty-five minutes with their 1st foray forward after absorbing the away pressure.
Pennery was again involved against his former club as he played a delicious rising cross into the corridor of uncertainty to find Liam Robinson, who was quickest to react and had a free header that he converted with relative ease from six yards. And it should have been three-nil either side of the hour mark as Beckley went close alongside Robinson dragging wide; a range of substitutions for both teams signalling a lull with Totton struggling to make any real inroads as they lacked the final ball to fully test home goalkeeper and defenders.
With fifteen minutes left Ings drove forward and played a low cross into the advancing striker who was soon denied by a brilliant tackle in the six yard box; Odubade going close sixty seconds later as he drove wide of goal under pressure. And despite a spell of intense possession Totton were unable to break through against the Royals who fully deserved their two-nil victory from a good display; the only concern being a slight injury to midfielder Charlie Williamson in the dying moments as he attempted his fifty-fifty challenge in the defence.
Portchester’s victory takes them into the future round of the Hampshire Senior Cup with their opponents not yet known at the time of writing, with Dave Carter showing his joy at the final whistle. They will aim to extend their fine form against East Cowes Victoria away on Saturday in the FA Vase before travelling to New Milton Town next Tuesday night for their Wessex League Cup encounter. The Royals will then return back to league action on October 1 versus Christchurch away in Dorset before hosting Bemerton Heath Harlequins (04/10).
PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Home side take a shot on target as Portchester seal victory over their Southern League opponents AFC Totton on Tuesday night, progressing within the Hampshire Senior Cup.