AFC Portchester 2 AFC Stoneham 0
If Barry Mason’s goal had been scored in the Premier League you would have seen the replay 100 times by now - it was that good.
And what a way for the new Portchester man to mark his debut after coming off the bench on 58 minutes and scoring the goal which wrapped up the three points for the home side with nine minutes remaining.
The temperature may have had an autumnal feel to it but the game was basked in sunshine as 232 people enjoyed the weather and the football - the biggest crowd in the Wessex League so far this season.
The Royals looked like they were in control of this encounter throughout but the visitors gave them a few scares and may well have made it a very different game if they had converted any of their chances.
In the opening minute Stoneham had a half chance when Sam Woodward picked up the ball after the home side lost possession in midfield but he blazed his shot high and wide of the target.
Three minutes later Portchester had their first chance when Liam Hibberd crossed the ball from the right wing to the far post. The ball dropped into the path of Joe Johnson but the youngster skied his shot well over.
Stoneham thought they had taken the lead on 11 minutes when a free kick from wide on the left was floated into the box, giving Will Wiseman a free header on goal. It looked to be heading in but keeper Brad Snelling dived full length to his left to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
At the other end a corner from the right was met by Peter Castle and his downward header went towards Johnson but he couldn’t divert the ball into the net from close range.
On 15 minutes the home side were awarded a penalty when Lerone Plummer was pulled down inside the box. However, for the second week running the Royals couldn’t convert a spot kick - this time Lee Wort tried his best to guide his shot into the corner but keeper Tom Parker-Trott got down well to keep his effort out.
On 35 minutes the ball was played forward into the right hand side of the Portchester penalty area and Arty Kerton tried to stab his shot towards goal but a defender got back in time to block it.
Three minutes later Steve Ramsey looked certain to head home when Hibberd’s inch-perfect cross found him at the far post but a defender managed to flick it out of his path just as he looked to put the ball into the net.
Snelling came to Portchester’s rescue again on the stroke of half time when Woodward’s free kick dropped to Pip Nolan inside the six yard box. His attempt to turn the ball towards goal ran to Ben Clarke and just at the moment he looked to tap home from close range, the home keeper knocked the ball out of his path and behind for a corner.
The home side went close to scoring four minutes into the second half when a cross into the near post was aimed at Plummer but a defender beat him to the ball and cleared the danger.
Portchester did take the lead on 55 minutes. Substitute Joe Chamberlain made an instant impact after coming off the bench when he won the ball in midfield and lifted it into the path of Lee Wort, who brought the ball down before hitting a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Stoneham almost equalised instantly when a ball over the top of the home defence sent Callum Laycock racing clear but Snelling just beat him to the ball on the edge of the box.
On 67 minutes a corner from the right picked out Craig Hardy near the penalty spot and his downward header bounced up, hit the crossbar and went over.
Stoneham substitute Marcel Laptas got to a cross from the left on 74 minutes but the flick off the back of his head went high and wide.
Five minutes later Woodward took a free kick from 20 yards out and in the centre of the pitch. He curled his effort over the defensive wall but he also put it over the crossbar.
Then came Mason’s thunderbolt to double Portchester’s advantage on 81 minutes. A deep cross from the left dropped into the right hand top corner of the penalty area and Mason hit the ball first time.
It looked like it was going in the moment it left his boot and his shot smashed into the top far corner of the net, prompting wild celebrations among the home players and it was fitting that Great Balls of Fire was blasted out from the PA system.
Line-up: Brad Snelling, Liam Hibberd, Rob Evans, Peter Castle (replaced by Craig Hardy on 32 mins), Luke Dempsey, Josh Hanratty, Lerone Plummer (replaced by Barry Mason on 58 mins), Steve Ramsey (replaced by Joe Chamberlain on 54 mins), Craig Harding, Lee Wort, Joe Johnson.
Subs not used: Lee Molyneaux, Harvey Clark.
Goals: Lee Wort (55 mins), Barry Mason (81 mins).