AFC Stoneham 1 Portsmouth XI 1, 4-5 pens - Four-month wait worth it as Blues youngsters reach quarter-finals after dramatic finale

It had been four months in the making – and was ultimately decided in the most dramatic of finales.

Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 10:05 pm

The Blues had been waiting since October to fulfil their third-round fixture with AFC Stoneham, with the match rearranged several times and the location even switched twice.

What unfolded was a gripping end, with the Pompey XI progressing in the Hampshire Senior Cup following a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success.

It appeared as though the visitors were set for a 1-0 triumph following Alfie Bridgman’s wonderful 21st-minute finish

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The midfielder with two first-team appearances to his name, accepted Harry Jewitt-White’s pass before nudging it past a defender and firing an angled left-footed shot into the far corner.

The watching Danny Cowley, who was sat with chief executive Andy Cullen and Academy boss Greg Miller, will no doubt have been impressed with the quality of the goal.

Yet, in the first minute of time added on, Duarte Martins rose high to meet a right-wing cross and claim a last-gasp equaliser.

Heartbreak for Pompey, who were made up entirely of first and second year scholars, with the game heading immediately to penalties rather than extra-time.

Alfie Bridgman put Pompey in the lead at AFC Stoneham with a superbly-taken first-half goal. Picture: Robin Jones

Bridgman missed, as did Stoneham’s Martins, and, crucially, so did their goalkeeper Tom Parker-Trott.

It was left to substitute Jamie Howell to net the decisive penalty and send Pompey into the quarter-finals for a trip to Farnborough, pencilled in for February 16.

And the Blues youngsters can be proud of their performance, having also progressed through the previous round on spot kicks, on that occasion defeating Basingstoke.

In the ninth minute, Bridgman cleverly spun his marker to create room on the outside down the left to then whip in an excellent cross.

That was pounced upon by Kamavuako at the far post, who rifled a right-footed shot into the side netting.

Immediately Stoneham hit back through Jim Orvis, whose angled cross-cum-shot from the right was clawed away from by the backpedalling Toby Steward from under his own bar.

The Blues took the lead on 21 minutes through a lovely finish from Bridgman.

Jewitt-White slipped the pass through to the left wing-back, who touched the ball past defender before unleashing a tremendous angled left-footed shot into the far bottom corner.

It was a lovely move from the Blues, with Bridgman, who had started so brightly, establishing a 1-0 lead.

Stoneham should have levelled within minutes after Izzy Kaba couldn’t cut out a high ball, providing Duarte Martins with a golden chance, only to balloon it over the bar.

Pompey maintained their lead until half-time – and it took a good diving stop from Steward to keep it on 53 minutes.

A free-kick came in from the right which was met by the head of centre-half Ben Clarke, but the visiting keeper was equal to it.

Then Jack Fox failed to clear and Martins pounced, only to wastefully steer the ball wide when he should have done far better.

On 64 minutes, Steward somehow clawed the ball away for a stunning save to deny Will Wiseman after his header from a right-wing corner appeared goal-bound.

The hosts were edging closer to an equaliser and Scott Hills fired a low cross from the left across the face of goal, screaming to be tapped in, but nobody was there.

However, with five minutes of time added on, Martins levelled with a powerful free header to meet Orvis’ cross from the right.

It was agony for Pompey, but they weren’t down for long as Howell secured their penalty shoot-out triumph.

Pompey XI: Steward, Fox (85 mins Laidlaw), Kaba, Dockerill, Simpson, Hughes, Jewitt-White, Gifford, Payce (77 mins Howell), Kamavuako, Bridgman.

Subs Not Used: Spurway, Hirst, Bosaka.

Attendance: 657

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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