Lymington Town 3 AFC Portchester 4
This game will live long in the memory of Portchester’s followers who saw it after their side battled back from 3-1 down at half time to win 4-3.
On the full time whistle it had the feel of being a significant result - just how significant with so much of the season still to be played it’s impossible to tell right now but if the campaign brings the successes craved for, those in the Royals’ camp may look back to this game on October 5 as a key moment on the road to that success.
This dramatic encounter had everything - seven goals, three players sent to the sin bin and countless other bookings along the way, and three penalties awarded in a game played without the aggression or poor behaviour the sin bins and cards shown would suggest had taken place.
The visitors will feel they had plenty of justifiable grumbles about the referee’s performance but in the end it didn’t matter as they eventually let their football do the talking.
The home side bossed the first half and fully deserved to be leading 3-1 at half time.
They went close to breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes when a free kick from the right was half cleared to Dominic Falco on the edge of the penalty area. His shot deflected off of a couple of players before the ball was crossed back in from the left and Steve Flynn’s header at the far post bounced back off the woodwork.
Lymington took the lead two minutes later when a ball over the top of the visiting defence was brought under control and then played to the left into the path of Sam House, who shot low through a crowd of players into the far corner of the net.
They nearly doubled their lead on 17 minutes when a free kick from just outside the box by Micky Finch was curled over the defensive wall and keeper Brad Snelling flung himself to his right to make a fine one handed save.
The visitors were becoming more and more confused and bewildered by some of the decisions by the match officials - including a free kick given against Josh Warren when he received a high foot into his face and was left with a suspected broken nose.
Portchester’s frustrations continued to mount and Adam Cripps was sent to the sin bin for what looked to be nothing more than asking the referee to explain one of his decisions - something both sides were continually doing during the first period.
Lymington got their second goal in controversial circumstances when they were awarded a very dubious looking penalty on 33 minutes.
Aziz Aldhayan got clear down the right before passing the ball inside to House and just as he looked to fire off a shot on goal, a visiting defender appeared to win the challenge fairly as the ball flew away to the right. However, the referee deemed it to be a foul and House sent Snelling diving the wrong way with his spot kick.
Ellis Martin was then sent to the sin bin for the visitors on 36 minutes and Flynn hit the post again with a header from another cross from the left.
Despite all of the mayhem Portchester got themselves a lifeline back into the game when they scored on 38 minutes. Owen Fee fed the ball to Dan Wooden on the right and his cross towards the penalty spot was met by Liam Bush, who got enough of a touch to the ball to bundle it over the line.
However, a minute later the home side almost restored their two goal advantage when Aldhayan got clear down the right and passed the ball inside to Falco, whose shot was blocked by Snelling’s legs.
Flynn shot over the top when well placed and House hit the post with another effort before the home side scored their third goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
There didn’t appear to be much danger when House got the ball in the left hand side of the penalty area and he shot low towards the goal. However, Snelling allowed the ball to squirm under his body at his near post and the shot rolled over the line and House completed his hat-trick.
Portchester’s belief was soon restored at the start of the second half when they pulled the score back to 3-2 on 53 minutes. Ellis Martin took a free kick from the right around 25 yards out and curled his shot into the far corner of the net.
The visitors drew level four minutes later when a ball down the middle sent Fee racing clear. He took it on into the penalty area and past keeper Sam Jones, who brought him down as he tried to tuck the ball home. Steve Ramsey sent the keeper diving the wrong way with his penalty.
It was all Portchester at this stage and they should have had another penalty on 59 minutes when Wooden clearly appeared to be shoved over inside the box as he chased a through ball.
A corner was given instead and Jack Barker met the ball at the far post and his looping header had to be hacked away off the line by a defender.
The visitors weren’t to be denied though and they eventually took the lead on 63 minutes. Nathan Paxton received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and after evading two defenders he managed to scramble his way into the box.
A third defender hacked him down for a clear penalty and Ramsey made no mistake again with his spot kick.
What was surprising, given everything that had gone on before it, was that this was the last goal of the match with 24 minutes still remaining.
The home side pushed for an equaliser and their best chance came on 66 minutes when Aldhayan crossed from the right and although Flynn had a free header in front of goal he directed the ball wide of the target.
Luke Churchill was put in the sin bin for the home side with five minutes remaining and Portchester did enough to see out the game without allowing Lymington to snatch a late equaliser.
GOALS: Liam Bush (38 mins), Ellis Martin (53 mins), Steve Ramsey (pen, 57 mins; pen, 63 mins).
LINE-UP: Brad Snelling, Jack Barker, Liam Bush (replaced by Jordan Brooks on 81 mins), Adam Cripps, Josh Warren (replaced by Olly Searle on 23 mins), Ellis Martin, Rob Evans, Steve Ramsey, Dan Wooden, Nathan Paxton, Owen Fee (replaced by Bradey Norton on 73 mins).
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: George Murage.