First-half hat-trick hero Roberts takes full advantage of poor Horndean defending as AFC Portchester make FA Cup progress

Kieran Roberts and Lee Wort prospered from some poor Horndean defending as AFC Portchester claimed an FA Cup extra preliminary qualifying round PO postcode derby victory.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 3:00 pm
Lee Wort, right, has just given AFC Portchester an early lead. Picture: Martyn White.

Wort was left unmarked to head the Royals into a seventh minute lead before Roberts, benefitting fully from time and space, plundered a hat-trick to open up a commanding 4-1 half-time lead.

Though the Deans reduced the advantage early in the second half, a period which they mainly dominated, the damage had already been done as their cup dreams were ended at the first hurdle.

The visitors were inches away from taking a third minute lead after being awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area. Ben Anderson curled in a 20-yarder which former Pompey Academy keeper Leon Pitman flung himself to his right to turn away for a corner.

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Horndean's Sam Hookey, left, slides in to tackle George Colson. Picture: Martyn White

The hosts took the lead shortly after when right-back George Colson’s cross was nodded in by Wort

On 14 minutes Roberts fired home from close range after former Royals keeper Cameron Scott had beaten out a Sam Pearce header from a corner.

Horndean got themselves back in the tie on 35 minutes with a great goal. Midfielder Tommy Tierney found left-back Rob Taw, whose cross from near the byline was nodded in by Zac Willett at the near post.

It was the former Paulsgrove striker’s first competitive goal for the Deans after stepping up two rungs of the non-league pyramid.

Portchester keeper Leon Pitman makes a great early save from Ben Anderson's free-kick. Picture: Martyn White

It could easily have been his second, having previously fired over from close range on 20 minutes.

Having given themselves a lifeline, Horndean then shot themselves in the foot three minutes later.

Centre half Luke Dempsey, back-pedalling, could only head on a huge Pearce clearance and Roberts held off a challenge before restoring his side’s two-goal lead.

Roberts completed his treble two minutes into time added on. Scott had been forced to dive low to his right to turn a Pearce shot aside for a corner, but Deans failed to clear the flag-kick and Roberts drilled in his third goal.

Horndean goalscorer Zac Willett in possession. Picture: Martyn White

Wort and Roberts are two Southern League-standard strikers, full of pace, power and directness. They can hurt teams even when closely marked, so for Horndean to allow them the space they did … well, no wonder at half-time Portchester were on course to better their FA Cup record win of 5-0 against Hordean in 2013.

Deans made a superb start to the second period when Duffin, trying to latch onto a pass, was adjudged to have been fouled by Curt de Costa and the same player sent Pitman the wrong way from the resultant penalty on 48 minutes.

It should really have been 4-3 just after the hour mark when Willett, always full of running on the left flank, set up Anderson whose shot from 10 yards out smacked against the crossbar. Had that gone in, it would have set up a fascinating last half-hour, for though Horndean continued to enjoy the better possession that was their last great opportunity.

Portchester, for their part, weren’t anywhere near as dangerous a threat going forward after the break as they had been, with Roberts withdrawn on the hour mark, though pacy sub Lamin Jatta looked dangerous whenever he got the ball and a Joe Briggs 25-yarder wasn’t too far away.

As the rain lashes down, Portchester's Kieran Roberts is all smiles after completing a first half hat-trick. Picture: Martyn White

The hosts were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes left when midfielder Jake Raine was shown a second yellow. In a game that was never dirty, Portchester also had Steve Ramsey, Briggs, Da Costa and Pitman booked.

But even with a numerical disadvantage, there were few alarms for the men in orange, with Sam Hookey’s 30-yard effort straight at Pitman and Willett heading a Taw cross over.

Portchester now travel to Wessex Premier rivals Blackfield & Langley in the preliminary qualifying round tie on August 21.

With a free date next Saturday, the Royals’ next match is a mouthwatering ‘El Creekio’ Wessex Premier derby with Fareham Town at their newly renamed On-Site Group Stadium on Tuesday, August 17.

Portchester: Pitman, Colson, Bailey, Raine, Da Costa, Pearce, Briggs, Ramsey (Fennemore, 61), Wort, Roberts (Jatta, 60), Barker.

Horndean: Scott, Morgan, Taw, Dempsey, Martin (Grant, 32), Hookey, Tierney(Jackson, 71), Howes, Duffin, Anderson (Kimber, 74), Willett.