AFC PORTCHESTER boss Graham Rix praised his side for battling to a 2-0 victory against Bournemouth Poppies at Wicor Rec.
The Royals continued their recent good form with goals from Tony Easter and Miles Everett.
They had to wait nervously to clinch the match with the second arriving in the 75th minute. But Rix was delighted to see his side make up more ground on the top four in the Wessex League premier division.
He said: ‘There is still a long way to go and momentum is a great thing. ‘We have got that at the moment and it is up to us to make sure we maintain it. ‘It’s up to us to turn the matches against the top sides into big games.’
A goal after only 33 seconds from Easter set Portchester on their way. Joe Noakes burst powerfully down the left and squared the ball to Easter. The striker then drilled a crisp low shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom far corner of the net.
With the Poppies rattled Everett sent another shot narrowly past the post.
After the frenetic start, the game settled down with the visitors getting themselves into the contest. But the home side continued to look more threatening and Joe Bye had a fierce shot tipped over the top.
Another Bye shot was heading for the bottom corner when it hit Easter and deflected wide of the upright.
The Royals had lost their early impetus, though Easter did force another good block by the Poppies goalkeeper.
Home keeper Cameron Scott produced his first save as half-time approached. He made a good block to keep out a well-struck angled drive.
The visitors were left fuming when they bundled the ball into the net before the break but the referee ruled there had been a foul on the Portchester keeper.
Since the first minute the Royals had huffed and puffed without being able to impose themselves on the Poppies.
They were almost punished when Dave Erwin got in behind them at a free-kick but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Gary Moody had a good chance to give the Royals a two-goal cushion on the hour but put his free header from a corner over the bar.
Noakes had been booked in the first half and with the combative forward becoming increasingly frustrated he was wisely replaced by Dale Mason.
The substitute created the Royals second goal after 75 minutes. Mason burst forward from just inside the Bournemouth half. And he laid a perfect ball across to Everett who rifled it into the roof of the net.
AFC Portchester: Scott, Evans, Moody, Clarke, Warren, Cain, Everett, Bye, Easter, Baldacchino, Noakes. Subs: Wells, Pottage, Kirby, Mason, Mukerjee
Story by Kevin Ricketts