Bournemouth 0 AFC Portchester 1
Alex Baldacchino marked his return to the Portchester side after 18 months out with injury by scoring the winner at Bournemouth.
A serious knee injury had kept him on the sidelines for more than a season but he made a welcome return to help keep the Royals’ promotion push on track.
It was a bleak, grey afternoon in Bournemouth and there was little happening on the pitch to brighten the day.
On six minutes a free kick from the right was floated into the box but Olly Searle got underneath the cross and his header went straight up into the air before being easily gathered by keeper Sam Jones.
Patrick Hnath went close to breaking the deadlock five minutes later when he was sent clear of the home defence. His shot hit Jones, came back to him but the ball rebounded off his body and rolled across goal before being hacked clear.
On 14 minutes Brodie Spencer got clear down the right before sending in a cross to Baldacchino, whose glancing header had to be tipped over the bar by Jones.
On 26 minutes Searle put Liam Bush clear down the left, who then fed the ball to Baldacchino who was waiting inside the box. He tried to beat Jones at his near post but fired his shot straight at the keeper.
Five minutes before half time a cross from the right was knocked down into the path of Brodie Spencer but he screwed his shot across the goal and well wide of the far post.
Portchester got what proved to be the winning goal on 53 minutes after Baldacchino was pushed over 25 yards out. He picked himself up to take the free kick and fired the ball past the wall, it bounced just in front of Jones and It evaded the keeper’s dive and found the back of the net.
Five minutes later Owen Fee rolled a free kick into the path of Bush and his shot from 25 yards out had to be pushed over by Jones.
On 62 minutes Rob Evans played a short corner to Fee and after getting the ball back, he drove into the penalty area but fired his shot straight at Jones.
On 74 minutes Searle’s free kick from the left evaded the home defence, which allowed Hnath to burst clear. He took the ball up to the six yard box but at the vital moment he failed to connect with the ball as he tried to fire it into the net.
With six minutes remaining a long ball down the left allowed the ball to be crossed low into the box and although Bush tried to turn it home at the far post, a defender got enough of a block on the ball to turn it away from the goal.
Bournemouth hardly created any chances all afternoon but they hit the woodwork on 86 minutes. The home side managed to break forward down the right and the cross picked out Lewis Harvey who headed the ball towards goal but keeper Brad Snelling got enough of a hand to it to divert the ball on to the crossbar.
The home side had another chance to score in the 90th minute when Levi Hernandez’s free kick from the right was headed towards goal by Matt Nicholls from six yards out but the looping effort was an easy save for Snelling to make.
GOAL: Alex Baldacchino (53 mins)
LINE-UP: Brad Snelling, Reece Colborne, Liam Bush, Adam Cripps, Stuart McConnachie, Olly Searle, Jordan Brooks, Rob Evans, Patrick Hnath (replaced by George Murage on 80 mins), Alex Baldacchino, Brodie Spencer (replaced by Owen Fee on 55 mins).