Hamble Club 2 AFC Portchester 2
AFC Portchester had to settle for a point from their drama-filled trip to Hamble Club.
The Royals took the lead in the 90th minute only to be pegged back by the home side equalising with practically the last kick of the game in injury time.
On reflection the visitors may look at it as a point gained after being on the end of two very poor looking decisions by the referee and losing keeper Charlie Searle to injury midway through the first half.
But they had the feeling of dropping two points on the final whistle, such was the nature in which they had got so close to what, after the opening third of the game, looked an improbable victory.
The home side made a lively start and they almost took the lead after only two minutes. A free kick from the right was knocked back across the six yard box and both Prince McClean and Peter Castle had close range efforts blocked by keeper Charlie Searle and a defender.
They went close again two minutes later when Castle had a free header from a corner on the left but he glanced his effort straight at Charlie Searle.
Hamble threatened again on ten minutes when Sam Ndlovu got clear in some space on the right and after making his way into the box his shot at the near post was easily held by Charlie Searle.
Portchester had their first chance on 13 minutes when Ellis Martin looked to fire home a free kick from 30 yards out but his shot lacked the power to test keeper Rory Anderson, who made a comfortable low save to his right.
Hamble broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances on 16 minutes. An attacker and a defender both went for a loose ball just inside the penalty area and it looked nothing more than a fiercely contested 50-50 challenge.
However, despite there being no appeals for a foul from either side, the referee awarded a penalty and once the protests from the visitors had subsided, Nathan Lynch sent Charlie Searle diving the wrong way with his spot kick.
Worse was to follow for the Royals on 26 minutes when a serious finger injury meant Charlie Searle could no longer continue in goal and Martin had to don the gloves.
At that point in the game, with the home side one up and Portchester having a stand-in keeper, there looked to be only one winner but the Royals slowly battled their way back into the game.
Late on in the half a free kick from the left was narrowly missed by both Jason Parish and Paxton as they tried to slide the ball home, Dan Wooden headed substitute Liam Bush’s cross well over and he then put his shot on the turn straight at Anderson.
In the second half the home side struggled to test Martin’s goalkeeping abilities as Portchester pushed on in search of goals at the other end.
On 49 minutes a ball played forward from midfield was missed by Coby Wilson and it ran to Paxton, whose shot looked to be heading into the far corner until a defender managed to block it.
Paxton did find the net on 55 minutes to pull Portchester level. A corner into the near post from the left picked him out but his header was pushed away by Anderson. However, Paxton was alert to the rebound and he tucked the ball into the corner of the net.
Portchester substitute Adam Cripps almost gifted Hamble a goal when he was caught in possession on 67 minutes. Liam Crook raced into the penalty area with the ball but a defender got back to block his goal-bound shot.
The visitors went close to going in front three minutes later when quick interchanging of passes allowed Steve Ramsey to set up Wooden but he fired his shot straight at Anderson.
On 72 minutes a corner from the right picked out Parish and his header had to be cleared off the line and Owen Fee pulled his shot from the rebound wide of the target.
Ramsey went close with a free kick from the edge of the box on 83 minutes - his effort took a deflection off of the end of the defensive wall and flew just wide of the target.
The Portchester midfielder went close with another free kick four minutes later and this time Anderson had to get down low to his right to push the shot around the post.
The visitors finally got their noses in front just as the stopwatch clicked on to 90 minutes. The ball was played forward into the path of Wooden as he made his way into the box.
He hooked the ball towards goal as it dropped over his shoulder and the shot hit the post before spinning into the net, with Anderson rooted to the spot.
Portchester’s wild celebrations were cut short in the third minute of injury time when a poor looking refereeing decision again led to a goal for the home side.
Substitute Jordan Brooks headed the ball as it bounced up just outside the penalty area but the referee appeared to be the only person in the ground who thought he saw a handball in the incident.
The free kick on the edge of the box was taken by Crook and his low shot wrong footed the visiting defence and stand-in keeper Martin and it bounced into the net.
GOALS: Nathan Paxton (55 mins), Dan Wooden (90 mins)
LINE-UP: Charlie Searle (replaced by Liam Bush on 26 mins), Jack Barker, Ellis Martin, Rob Evans, Callum Chugg (replaced by Adam Cripps on 46 mins), Olly Searle, Nathan Paxton (replaced by Jordan Brooks on 78 mins), Steve Ramsey, Jason Parish, Dan Wooden, Owen Fee.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Bradey Norton, George Murage.