Fiesty win against Horndean takes AFC Portchester to within four points of the Wessex League leaders
AFC Portchester moved to within four points of Wessex Premier League leaders Alresford with a feisty 2-1 victory against Horndean at the Crest Finance Stadium.
Playing their first home league game since October, Portchester came from behind to claim a fifth straight Wessex win and end a run of seven successive Horndean victories over them dating back to March 2016.
Home manager Mick Catlin felt it was a just reward for all the hard work put in to make sure the game went ahead.
'I am delighted our performance reflected all the efforts we made to get the game on,' he said.
'We were there in the morning taking the covers off and rolling the pitch to get rid of all the water.
'It turned out a good day all round for the club and all our efforts paid off.
'There were around nearly 200 spectators and they witnessed a good, hard-fought match
In an even first half, the visitors were the better side and were rewarded with a goal on the stroke of half-time.
A superb reverse pass from Jack Maloney split the home defence and put Ben Anderson in.
The 16-year-old showed maturity beyond his age with a composed finish.
'Their goal could easily have derailed us,' said Catlin.
' I wasn't too worried though because we had created chances and just needed to start taking them.'
The home equaliser arrived 15 minutes into the second half courtesy of Alex Baldacchino.
The pint-sized striker turned on the edge of the area and fired his shot past keeper Lloyd Thomas.
With heavy rain falling, conditions became difficult for both teams.
Alfie Liss missed a great chance for the visitors, putting his header wide from eight yards.
It was the Royals who found the little bit extra needed with a superb piece of quality from Dan Wooden.
His flick from a Steve Ramsey pass set up Nathan Paxton to apply the finish.
In the closing stages, Horndean found themselves down to nine men.
Maloney was sent off for a second bookable offence and former Portchester midfielder Ash Howes was sent to the sin bin for dissent.
'It was like a good old-fashioned cup game,' said Catlin.
'Horndean lost their discipline a bit towards the end.
'For us it is good to keep our little winning run going and maintain the pressure on leaders Alresford.'
There is another huge game at The Crest Finance Stadium next Saturday when Alresford visit.
Another home victory will see them scissor the gap on Alresford to just a point - and they would still have two games in hand.
The Royals weren’t the only title challenger chalking up a fifth straight league win at the weekend.
Second-placed AFC Stoneham are now just three points adrift of Alresford after Ben Clarke and Eduardo Jiminez scored in a 2-0 win at fourth-placed Hamble Club.
The Purples will go top if they beat Bashley at home next Saturday and Alresford lose at Portchester.
There is another huge game at the top of the table on January 4 when Stoneham host Alresford.