Mick Catlin refusing to write off AFC Portchester's Wessex Premier title chances despite defeat to high-flying AFC Stoneham
AFC Portchester manager Mick Catlin is remaining positive despite his side’s 2-1 home defeat to fellow Wessex Premier Division title hopefuls AFC Stoneham.
Although disappointed by the result, Catlin felt he couldn't fault his team’s display.
It is the second time in three weeks that the Royals have lost against teams challenging at the top - they had previously suffered a 1-0 home loss to table-topping Alresford on December 28.
Despite this, Catlin insists the Royals’ title chances shouldn't be written off.
‘There are still 50 points to play for and it is still very much in the melting pot,’ said Catlin.
‘We just need to pick ourselves up and get on a winning run.
‘To be fair, Stoneham were well organised and it was a good game.
‘Both teams struggled in the conditions with a blustery wind making life very difficult.
‘We had the wind behind us in the first half and Stoneham found it difficult to get out.
‘When they did, they scored against the run of play.
‘We managed an equaliser before half time but knew that we would be up against it in the second half.
‘After Stoneham went ahead again ten minutes after the break, we threw the kitchen sink at them.
‘In the end, we had four up front but couldn't find an equaliser.
‘To their credit, Stoneham soaked up a lot of pressure and over the 90 minutes probably shaded it.’
Portchester’s first half equaliser was scored by debutant Sam Lanahan from a corner.
That was the first goal the Purples had conceded in six league games.
The Royals’ loss leaves them seven points behind Alresford - who had lost to Stoneham the previous week - with two games in hand.
They are also now four points adrift of Stoneham - who have stormed into title contention with seven straight league wins - having played the same amount of games.
‘It is still all to play for and we are not too downbeat,’ Catlin added.
n Alresford have boosted their Wessex League title challenge by signing Hawks striker Ollie Dennett.
And the youngster made an instant impact by scoring a second-half hat-trick on his debut at Tadley Calleva on Friday night.
Alresford won the game 4-1.
Dennett had started for the Hawks three days earlier in their 3-0 Hampshire Senior Cup win at Gosport Borough.