Wessex Premier League | 27 January 2018 | The Blanchard Wells Stadium | Scorer(s): Mason
A nine-man Portchester held on to a slender lead to hang on to all three points in a fierce clash with fellow high-flyers Lymington Town.
Striker Andy Todd and midfielder Jake Morgan were both sent off for incidents off-the-ball in what was a high-tempered affair.
Thankfully for the Royals though, the returning Dale Mason’s strike in the first half was enough for victory.
The home side showed the impetus in the opening stages when winger Joe Noakes breezed passed his marker with a cheeky nutmeg before sliding the ball over to Steve Ramsey, but the midfielder could only see his shot deflected for a corner.
With the rain pouring down and the pitch getting more slippery by the second it was only a matter of time before the tackles began to fly in, with Jake Morgan being the first player to be handed a caution in the 9th minute for a strong tackle on Lymington’s Tom Man.
The early yellow card did not deter Portchester’s spirits and they were ahead four minutes later.
Just like the earlier Ramsey chance, Noakes skipped passed the full-back before drilling a lovely weighted ball into the path of Dale Mason who confidently passed the ball into the roof of the net to put his side in front.
Moments later and Portchester had almost doubled their lead. Ramsey again coming close, but his effort was prevented by some heroic Town defending who cleared his strike off the line.
In the 23rd minute, Joe Noakes almost turned from provider to scorer when his header was again scrambled off the line by Lymington.
Six minutes later and the Portchester bench must have been thinking what do they have to do to score again?
Nathan Kirby brought the ball down superbly on the edge of the box before unleashing a thunderous strike which looked destined for the top corner – but instead a second goal was prevented by the woodwork as his half-volley pinged off the crossbar.
The final real tackling point of the first half came in the form of a booking for Lymington Town full-back Adam Roberts for a full-blooded tackle on goal-scorer Mason.
As the referee blew for the end of play, Portchester could be pleased that they found themselves ahead and that their opponents had done little to threaten their half-time lead.
Half Time: AFC Portchester 1 – 0 Lymington Town
The Royals nearly started the second half in style when goal-scorer Mason continued to cause problems when his through ball found the feet of Andy Todd, but the striker could only aim his shot directly at keeper Ross Casey in the 53rd minute.
Minutes later and the third yellow of the game was brandished to winger Joe Noakes as he flew into a tackle late.
In the 70th minute, it was almost heart-break for Portchester as Lymington Town had the ball in the back of the net, but thankfully for the hosts the goal was ruled to be offside and they retained their fragile lead.
Moments after replacing Joe Noakes, Brandon Miller sent a searching long ball to Andy Todd who did everything right by taking it round the keeper and holding off a defender but unfortunately for the big-man he lost his balance at the crucial moment and hit his shot way over the bar with the goal gaping.
The 78th minute saw the first red-card of the day when Jake Morgan was handed his second yellow for retaliating to taunting by a Lymington forward.
It then went from bad to worse for Portchester who were reduced to nine when Andy Todd saw red for clashing with a Lymington defender after he was on the receiving end of a harsh challenge from the Town player.
Somewhat fortunately for the Royals, the visitors also had a man sent to the changing rooms when it is believed Ethan Maddocks was given his marching orders for an off-the-ball challenge.
The final chance of the game fell to Portchester despite having been another man down. Brandon Miller raced through and could and probably should, have wrapped up the points for his side - but his shot rolled just inches wide.
Thankfully, the miss did not matter, and the Royals were able to hold onto an important three points as they bounced back from Hampshire Senior Cup defeat in mid-week against Blackfield and Langley, where they were downed 3-0.
Full Time: AFC Portchester 1 – 0 Lymington Town
THE LINE UPS:
Royals: Noice, Evans (c), Stone, Ramsey, Searle, Woodford, Morgan, Mason, Kirby, Todd, Noakes.
Subs: Bye, C. Scott, Miller, Page, Birmingham.
Lymington Town: Casey, Fuller, Roberts, Pickett, Bottomley, Walker, Stephenson, Jarvis, Maddocks, Odam, Man.
Subs: Hawkins, Davies, Willett, Long.
Report by George Baker