AFC Portchester 3 Fleet Town 2
AFC Portchester saw off the challenge of the wind and rain and Fleet to take the three points in this Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division encounter.
While the guests invited to celebrate the opening of the club’s new boardroom enjoyed warm hospitality inside the new building, everyone outside had to endure a drenching during the game.
Heavy rain and high winds throughout made this a difficult spectacle to endure or play in and all involved deserve credit for trying to play in the difficult conditions.
The game started very open, with Nathan Paxton glancing his header wide from Dan Wooden’s cross in the ninth minute.
Three minutes later Steve Ramsey was sent racing clear into the box and his low shot was pushed away by keeper Chris Harris, and when the ball was crossed back into the box, Paxton could not direct his header on target.
Fleet came close to scoring two minutes later when Portchester keeper Brad Snelling had to be quick off his line to save from Paul Coventry in a one-on-one situation.
Portchester broke the deadlock 16 minutes in when Harris parried a cross from the left straight into the path of Wooden, and he made no mistake by knocking the ball home from close range.
Portchester doubled their lead five minutes later through Nathan Paxton, who found space 30 yards out and unleashed a beautiful low strike which skidded off the wet surface into the bottom left corner of the net.
Five minutes before half time James Smith raced down the right wing and sent a low cross across the face of goal and although two visiting players slid in on it, neither could get a touch to the ball.
On 43 minutes Paxton was sent clear into the left hand side of the penalty area and after cutting inside his marker he skied his shot well over the target.
Portchester threatened to extend their lead just a minute after the re-start when a cross from the right was punched away by Harris. The ball fell to Rob Evans on the edge of the box but he skied his attempted shot.
Fleet had a good chance to score on 49 minutes when a free kick on the right was swung into the box by Billy Oram and Sam Williams put his header up into the air and the ball dropped just wide of the target.
Portchester made it 3-0 on 51 minutes when a sumptuous cross was met by a leaping Wooden who sent it past Harris for his second goal of the game.
Wooden went close to completing his hat-trick five minutes later when Paxton sent in a cross from the left. The striker just missed connecting with the ball and the cross just flashed past the far post.
Things got worse for the visitors when they were reduced to ten men on the hour mark when Williams was shown a straight red card for sliding over the top of the ball into Olly Searle, who had to be substituted after the incident.
Fleet responded well though to conceding a third and going down to ten men and they eventually got their first goal in the 66th minute. Aaron Redford curled in a cross that was met by a spectacular overhead kick by Paul Coventry on the penalty spot and he sent the ball flying into the corner of the net.
On 68 minutes the ball was crossed into the box from the right and Wooden just missed it before it ran to Ellis Martin at the far post but he sliced his shot wide.
A minute later saw the visitors produce a short corner routine when the ball was rolled to Jack Howard on the edge of the box. His shot flew through a crowd of players but went straight into Snelling’s gloves.
Wooden had a shot deflected wide and from the corner Callum Chugg tried to score from an overhead kick but his effort slid through to Harris.
On 73 minutes, Jordan Brooks won the ball in midfield, got past his marker and then hit a shot which Harris had to push away from goal and the loose ball was hacked away to safety.
On 76 minutes Smith cut inside from the right and sent in a ball which hit the top of the crossbar, and seven minutes later a cross from the right was met by substitute Jake Hammond and his header had to be tipped over the bar by Snelling.
Fleet continued to press and the Portchester defence stood firm until Fleet full back Smith went down inside the box in the second minute of added time, and Bradley Wilson converted from the spot.
Before Fleet could think of pressing for an equaliser, the referee blew the final whistle to confirm all three points for Portchester.
GOALS: Dan Wooden (16 mins & 51 mins), Nathan Paxton (21 mins).
LINE-UP: Brad Snelling, Olly Searle (replaced by Brodie Spencer on 61 mins), Ellis Martin, Adam Cripps, Josh Warren, Callum Chugg, Rob Evans, Steve Ramsey, Dan Wooden (replaced by George Murage on 89 mins), Nathan Paxton, Owen Fee (replaced by Jordan Brooks on 55 mins).
UNUSED SUBS: Liam Bush, Stuart McConnachie.
Additional reporting by: Jay Rowland
Picture by: Jordan Colborne