Never-say-die Portchester Rovers twice come from two goals down to reach Mid-Solent League Cup final – and it’s their first win of the season!

Portchester Rovers TWICE came from two goals down to reach the final of the Mid-Solent League’s Billy Hill Cup - their first win of the season!

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 9:31 am
Portchester Rovers line-up ahead of their Billy Hill Cup semi-final win over Mob Albion.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Portchester Rovers line-up ahead of their Billy Hill Cup semi-final win over Mob Albion. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

In a pulsating encounter at King George V, Rovers booked a cup final date with Wymering by beating Mob Albion on penalties after a 4-4 draw.

Remarkably, Portchester had trailed 3-1 in normal time and by the same score in the shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Tom Allen emerged as the match-winner, saving three penalties - to go alongside the spot-kick he had stopped in normal time!

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Portchester's Jamie Peters, left, and Mob's Darren Ferguson. Peters later scored Rovers' penalty shoot-out decider. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

It was an unlikely result, given that Rovers had picked up only two points from their 12 MSL Division 1 games, losing 6-1 and 6-0 to Mob on the way. And, due to clubs withdrawing, they also had a bye through to the last four of the Billy Hill Cup!

Portchester had only netted 13 goals in those 12 games, but struck four times in 90 minutes against the side boss Chris Yoxall believes ‘are the best footballing side in our league.’

One of the local non-league scene’s games of the season began with Chinemerem Nwokenkwo hitting the post for Rovers, playing their first competitive game since January 22, in the first minute.

After Mob had taken the lead through Harry Potter, David O’Donnell equalised. Though his penalty was saved, he volleyed in the rebound.

Mob's Harry Potter opens the scoring against Portchester Rovers. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Scott Johnston headed Mob back in front and they extended their lead shortly into the second half.

‘People probably thought ‘typical Portchy, they’ll fold now,’ said Yoxall. ‘But we were brilliant.

‘I said at half-time that even if we went another goal down, I didn’t want to see any heads drop.

‘At times this season we’ve gone 3-1 down and then capitulated.’

Mob's Darren Ferguson reacts to being sin-binned during the first half of their cup tie against Portchester Rovers. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Rovers stormed back with O’Donnell grabbing his second with a low 35-yarder into the bottom corner and Nwokenkwo using his strength to latch onto a long Allen goal kick and equalise.

Portchester were ahead for the first time when O’Donnell played in Sam Jones to score.

With time running out, Mob were awarded a penalty - which Allen flung himself to his left to save.

But from the resulting penalty, Mob levelled to take a breathless tie straight to penalties.

Scott Johnston scores Mob's second goal against Portchester Rovers. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Rovers promptly missed their first two, Ikponmwosa Obasuyi seeing his effort saved and O’Donnell firing wide.

Allen, though, came to the rescue with three saves and Rovers celebrations started - ‘there was a massive bundle,’ reported Yoxall - when Jamie Peters converted the winning spot-kick.

A cup final is a pleasing way to end to a season which Yoxall admits has been tough.

‘I’ve been here 10 years and I never want the club to fold. But when you’re losing week in week out it was tempting (to quit). You do question why you do it.

‘But Saturday shows why we do it. That win made up for all the losses we’ve had.

‘It was brilliant, it’s created a good feeling - just what we needed.

Portchester's Max Winslade, left, in action against Mob Albion. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘It would be unfair to single out Tom Allen as man of the match, because they were all brilliant. I was proud of all of them.’

Rovers will now play Wymering - who progressed due to league champions Harvest withdrawing - in the final at Horndean’s Five Heads Park on Easter Saturday, April 16.

The last time Rovers were in a final was the Father Purcell Cup in 2017/18 - when they were thrashed 5-0 by Wymering at Five Heads Park!

‘Same team, same ground - it will be a chance to bury that ghost and get our own back,’ said Yoxall.

‘I know the Wymering lads will be well up for it - and I think there’s mutual respect between the teams.’

Mob's Darren Ferguson (green/white) v Portchester Rovers. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Portchester's Jamie Peters clears v Mob Albion. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Mob Albion line up. Picture: Chris Moorhouse