New signing Charlie Gunson marked an impressive debut for Portchester by scoring after only nine minutes in this draw at Baffins Milton Rovers.
The visitors produced one of their best 45 minute performances for some time in the first half of Saturday’s game - their passing game creating many good chances while the defence looked solid enough throughout the first period.
The second half saw the fortunes of the two sides change somewhat and after Baffins equalised midway through the second period they had plenty of chances to go on and win the game.
Gunson could have scored in the opening minute when he latched on to a long through ball. He used his head to knock the ball down but fired his shot from 15 yards out into the side netting.
The home side provided an early test for keeper Charlie Searle when Corey Burns crossed the ball into the box low from the right and Callum Dart lost his marker to fire off a low shot but the Royals’ stopper got down low to his left to make the save.
Portchester’s opener came from Steve Ramsey’s corner on the left which saw Gunson - who has signed for the Royals on a dual registration basis from Southern League side Blackfield and Langley - rise above everyone to head the ball down into the net.
Charlie Searle prevented the home side from snatching an equaliser when Dart’s cross found Tyler Yates, who knocked the ball towards goal and the keeper just beat Burns in gathering up the danger a few yards off his line.
Portchester produced some delightful passing moves at times and one which started wide out on the right and involved Jack Breed, Mike Turvey and Gunson, ended with Breed firing off a shot which had to be beaten away by keeper Cameron Scott.
Following good play down the right Gunson and Ramsey’s quick passing opened up space for the latter to shoot but his low effort went straight at Scott.
Ramsey tried his luck with a shot on goal again moments later, following good work down the left this time, but his effort from 30 yards out was drilled straight at Scott.
The home side had a half chance to score on the half hour mark when a cross was half cleared by the visiting defence to Dale Mason but his shot was curling away from the target and went narrowly wide of the post.
Another cross from the right by Burns picked out Dart in front of goal but under pressure from Josh Warren he put his header over the top.
Portchester were pressing again at the start of the second half but Ashton Leigh was prevented from turning in Mason’s cross from close range only thanks to some strong defending.
On 57 minutes a ball through the middle was flicked on by Gunson into the path of Turvey, who took the ball into the penalty area but skewed his shot into the side netting when well placed to score.
However, Baffins were edging closer to scoring as the half wore on. Burns curled a shot from the edge of the box straight into Charlie Searle’s gloves and then Mason’s curling cross from the right was watched by everyone as it hit the outside of the post.
At the other end Turvey capitalised on a quickly taken throw in by slipping the ball inside to George Tuson-Firth but he blazed his shot over the crossbar.
Baffins drew level on 66 minutes after a long ball forward brought them a penalty after it dropped in behind the visiting defence on the left hand side of the penalty area.
Jason Parish got to the ball first as Charlie Searle raced off his line and the keeper brought down the home forward. Parish converted his penalty but Charlie Searle almost saved it with his leg, which diverted the ball up into the roof of the net.
Baffins had a goal ruled out two minutes later when Parish headed home a corner but the referee ruled he had pushed a defender out of the way first.
Robbie Taw then set up Burns for a shot inside the box but he curled his effort on to the crossbar and Tommy Tierney had an effort from the other side of the penalty area which hit the outside of the post.
With 10 minutes remaining good build up play on the left set up Burns again but his shot was easily held by Charlie Searle.
In the second minute of injury time Luke Middleton tried to bring the ball out of defence but passed it straight to substitute Joe McClean, who unleashed a shot which flew across goal but dropped wide of the far post.