AFC Portchester come from behind to complete US Portsmouth’s clean sweep of Wessex League Premier Division derby defeats
AFC Portchester came from behind to record their biggest Wessex League Premier Division win of the season.
They became the sixth side in 15 league games to score at least four in a game against US Portsmouth with a 4-1 home success.
Obi Saidy headed the visitors into a shock 35th minute lead as Tom Grice’s men aimed for their first PO postcode points of 2021/22 after losses to Baffins (0-3), Fareham (1-6), Moneyfields (1-4) and Horndean (1-3).
But their jubilation didn’t last long, Lee Wort levelling two minutes later, and the Royals stepped up a gear after the restart with George Barker (2) and Joe Briggs giving US a lesson in clinical finishing.
Grice made three changes to the side beaten 2-1 at home by Hamble at the weekend with Florjet Vucaj recalled to the midfield and Connor Grant and Connor Saunders forming a new-look central defensive pairing.
Skipper Tom Jeffes, normally a centre half, was deployed in a striking role in the absence of ex-Royal Joe Johnson and broken leg victim Brodie Spencer.
Portchester made one change from the side who drew 0-0 at Horndean, Briggs coming in for Sam Pearce who had injured his calf at the weekend but was on the bench.
The last time these two sides had met in a competitive fixture US produced a shock 2-1 FA Vase win just over 12 months ago. Here, only three of the 22 players who started that game - US trio Jeffes, Dan Sibley and John Cass - remained.
And it was Jeffes who provided the assist as US again threatened another surprise, his right-wing cross met by Saidy at the near post for a header which went across a crowded goalmouth and in at the far post.
That was no more than the visitors had deserved for their efforts, but the lead didn’t last long - Wort heading in a corner two minutes later.
The Royals had been forced into an early change with striker Ryan Pennery going off on 25 minutes with a rib injury - he had previously been clattered by keeper Dylan Kramer trying to scamper onto a through ball.
Though Royals boss Dave Carter had the pace of Lamin Jatta on the bench, he went for the experienced figure of Pearce instead.
Portchester were buoyed by Wort’s 13th goal of the campaign, ending the half the stronger, and they upped the tempo still further in the second period.
Wort and skipper Steve Ramsey combined to set up Barker on 51 minutes, the former Brighton and Swindon pro stepping inside a challenge to fire past Kramer.
Seven minutes later Pearce cleverly stepped over a cross, allowing the unmarked Barker time to place a first time shot to the keeper’s left.
It was truly game over on 67 minutes when Ramsey’s shot was blocked by a defender, the ball rolling kindly into Briggs’ path. But the wide midfielder’s rasping finish across Kramer and into the bottom corner was still a class finish.
Portchester had netted five times when the two clubs had last met in a league meeting at what is now the On-Site Group Stadium in January 2012.
In that Division 1 fixture, Blu Boam had been among the home goals. This time he came on as a USP sub for Saidy, but the visitors rarely looked like grabbing a second goal - Steve Mowthorpe hardly having any shots to save.
Indeed, the Royals went closest at the other end - Kramer pulling off three saves in quick succession at one point. He tipped Ramsey’s 20-yarder over for a corner, saved George Colson’s header from the resulting flag-kick, and then grabbed Wort’s angled effort as the hosts sniffed another five-goal haul.
US are poised to bring in Portchester midfielder Tom Dinsmore, and he will certainly provide a boost. But if they are to avoid being sucked even further into the lower reaches of the Premier Division, they need to shore up a leaky defence which has now shipped 45 goals in just 15 games.
Portchester: Mowthorpe, Bailey, Colson, Roundell, Tomasso, Raine, Briggs, Ramsey, Barker, Pennery, Wort. Subs used: Pearce, Jatta, Sharp.
USP: Kramer, Chandler, Scammell, Saunders, Grant, Saidy, Cass, Vucaj, Jeffes, Smart, Sibley. Subs used: Boam, Ndlovu.