TEN-MAN Portchester suffered a frustrating afternoon of near misses and half-chances as they slipped to a 1-0 Wessex premier defeat to league leaders Downton.
The home side fell behind in the 37th minute and any hopes they had of securing an equaliser evaporated when debutant Brady Norton was sent off deep into the second half.
He was making his debut on the right-hand side of midfield, while Pabbs N’Doye – signed from Moneyfields on Thursday – had to settle for a place on the bench.
The hosts were given the perfect opportunity to grab an early lead when they were awarded a free-kick 20-yards out. But Boan’s wind-assisted effort sailed high and wide.
League leaders Downton should have been in front in the sixth minute.
Rusher was played in behind the defence, and when his cross found Turpin, John Webb produced a smart save to smother the striker’s shot.
Turpin was then guilty of an even worse miss five minutes later.
Once again Rusher got the better of the full-back, but this time the Robins’ leading scorer blasted over with the goal gapping.
The stiff breeze was causing problems for both goalkeepers.
At one end, the Downton keeper could hardly reach the halfway line with his kicks.
At the other, Webb’s clearances were bouncing on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area.
On the evidence of the first 20 minutes, there was little to suggest which side was top of the league and which had come into the game on the back of a 5-1 thrashing at Bemerton.
Indeed, it was Portchester who came closest to opening the scoring when McGregor saw his shot blocked by Aldridge’s leg.
Downton finally took the lead against the run of play in the 37th minute.
James’ pass was intercepted and Urry was able to race clear, round the keeper, and fire into an empty net.
Half-time: AFC Portchester 0-1 Downton
As with the first half, there was little to separate the two sides after the interval.
Urry did well to beat three players, only to shoot straight at Webb.
At the other end, Mundy’s under-hit back pass forced Aldridge into a hasty clearance as McGregor closed in.
Portchester’s hopes of getting on level terms suffered a blow on the hour mark when Norton received a straight red card for stamping on Mundy.
With 15 minutes to go, N’Doye replaced Clark and the switch almost paid dividends when the striker’s goalbound header was blocked by Smith.
N’Doye then played Boan clear, but his effort curled just over the bar.
Deep into injury-time, the hosts came close to getting a deseved equaliser but Howe’s shot was cleared off the line by Scott.
Portchester: Webb, Clark, James, Howe, Audin, Maddison, Horstead, Cleife, McGregor, Norton, Boan. Subs: Ripiner, Tickle, N’Doye, Sweeney, Blackmore.
Downton: Aldridge, Palmer, Mundy, Scott, Smith, Finnegan, Dorrington, Rusher, Gullivar, Turpin, Urry. Subs: Watters, Brookes, Telfer, Sainsbury, Holmes.
Also in the Wessex League premier division, Horndean drew 1-1 with Bournemouth Poppies at Five Heads Park.
Dan Hayes gave the Deans a deserved 1-0 lead going into the break, before the visitors levelled matters in the second half.