AFC Portchester 0 Alresford Town 1
AFC Portchester closed out 2019 in disappointing fashion by losing a close encounter to league leaders Alresford Town.
There was little to choose between the two sides overall but the visitors slightly shaded the play in the final third of the field which enabled them to create the opening to score the only goal of the game.
It was a tense, nervy affair for the whole 90 minutes and although the Royals rallied late on they could not fashion the chance which would have brought them an equaliser.
In the opening stages of the game both sides traded chances. After three minutes Portchester won the ball in midfield and the ball was worked to Nathan Paxton, who drove into the box but he fired his shot straight at keeper Matt Fredericks at his near post.
Five minutes later Duarte Martens had a scuffed shot from the edge of the area but it went straight at home keeper Brad Snelling, who gathered the ball up at the second attempt.
Alresford went close to taking the lead on 18 minutes when Martens got clear down the right and played Mike Gosney in as he burst into the penalty area but Snelling blocked his low shot at the near post.
The visitors went close again four minutes later when Dan Vickers stole possession of the ball from Liam Bush on the right as he tried to clear it. Vickers then drove forwards and hit a low shot towards goal which took a slight deflection and Snelling had to knock the effort behind for a corner.
From the corner, Christian Rowe had a free header in front of goal but it bounced down into Snelling’s gloves.
Portchester had a decent chance to score on 24 minutes when the ball found Rob Evans on the right, who passed it inside to Alex Baldacchino and from the edge of the box he curled his shot around a defender but straight into Fredericks’ gloves.
Three minutes later Alresford almost broke the deadlock when Gosney drove forward down the left before squaring the ball inside to Vickers. He had two shots blocked by home defenders - first from the edge of the box and then his follow up effort from ten yards out.
The Magpies eventually took the lead on 33 minutes following a throw in on the left. The ball was worked to the byline and pulled back across goal and after being partially blocked it ran to Craig Harding, who tucked the ball home from close range.
Five minutes later Portchester created another half chance when a free kick from the half way line was flicked on into the path of Paxton but he couldn’t apply a touch to the ball to knock it towards goal.
The home side started the second half quickly and created two good chances inside the first five minutes after the re-start.
A throw in on the left was flicked on by Jason Parish to Dan Wooden, who in turn played the ball towards Paxton. From the edge of the box he tried to fire his first time shot home but put it high and wide of the target.
A corner from the right went too deep and cleared everyone before substitute Owen Fee turned the ball back across goal and Paxton put his free header over from six yards out.
On 62 minutes Fee burst clear down the right and crossed the ball to Wooden but his header towards goal was blocked by a defender.
Six minutes later a pass was slipped through from midfield to Parish, who unleashed his shot towards goal and Fredericks had to dive to his right to turn the ball around the post.
Parish went close again on 72 minutes when he received the ball on the edge of the penalty area after a free kick had been partially cleared. He curled his effort towards goal and Fredericks had to make a fine one handed save to his left to push the shot around the post.
Three minutes later Evans crossed the ball to the far post after finding some space on the left. Fee picked up the ball and created the room to shoot but he put his effort well over the target.
On 79 minutes Alresford created an opening at the other end when Martens picked up the ball on the left hand edge of the penalty area but his first time shot flew wide of the far post.
Portchester were battling to try and force an equaliser and they created another opening a minute later when Steve Ramsey picked up the ball 25 yards out and spotted Fredericks a few yards off his line.
The Royals’ captain tried to scoop his shot up and over the keeper but his effort was easily gathered by Fredericks in the end.
Paxton fired another effort over the target after being put clear inside the box and Fee then created an opportunity for Parish by pulling the ball back to him but he got his curling effort all wrong.
In injury time a deep free kick from the left was floated into the penalty area by Ellis Martin and both Paxton and Parish tried to head the ball towards goal but they both failed to connect with the cross and the ball dropped harmlessly wide.
LINE-UP: Brad Snelling, Jack Barker (replaced by Jordan Brooks on 77 mins), Liam Bush (replaced by Adam Cripps on 60 mins), Rob Evans, Ellis Martin, Olly Searle, Nathan Paxton, Steve Ramsey, Jason Parish, Alex Baldacchino (replaced by Owen Fee on 42 mins), Dan Wooden.
SUBS NOT USED: Stuart McConnachie, Brodie Spencer.