Steve Hutchings’ FA Vase double ensures miserable return for AFC Portchester’s large ex-Moneyfields contingent
Steve Hutchings’ double strike ensured AFC Portchester’s large ex-Moneyfields contingent suffered a miserable return to Dover Road.
The talismanic striker netted in each half to give Moneys a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win against the Royals in theFA Vase.
First, he latched onto a long ball from ex-Royal Rob Evans to produce a lovely, almost casual, finish past his former Moneys team-mate Steve Mowthorpe on 16 minutes.
Then, in the 77th minute, teenage right wing-back Chad Cornwell picked out Hutchings at the far post with a cross and the captain swivelled to volley back across Mowthorpe and in off the base of the post.
Hutchings took his seasonal tally to six in as many appearances - four in two Vase ties - and was only denied a hat-trick by seeing a first half header from James Franklyn’s cross smack against the crossbar.
Portchester also hit the woodwork midway through the second half, Marley Ridge - one of eight ex-Moneys men in the Royals starting XI - saw a low shot from the edge of the penalty area rebound off a post.
It was the second season running that Moneys boss Glenn Turnbull and eight of his matchday squad had dumped Portchester out at the second qualifying round stage.
Last October, 50 weeks ago to be precise,Turnbull’s US Portsmouth - from Division 1 of the Wessex League - had shocked their higher division hosts 2-1 away.
This time there was no divisional gap - indeed, Moneys are currently above the Royals in the Wessex Premier table. But, in the build-up to the tie, Turnbull was still keen to play the underdog card - knowing it had worked so well during USP’s fairytale run to the Vase semis last season.
Lee Wort returned to the Royals starting XI after missing the previous two games, resuming his 23-goal partnership with top scorer Kieran Roberts.
Harry Birmingham was recalled to the left-hand side of a Moneys back three, with Rob Evans - who had scored for Portchester in last season’s Vase loss to USP - on the right side of Tom Cain.
A feature of that USP Vase run had been James Franklyn’s ability to ghost into attacking positions from central midfield, and that was evident early on. Cain’s long ball out of defence found Franklyn in space on the right and he set up Bradey Norton for a low shot that Steve Mothorpe saved at his near post.
Home keeper Tom Price advanced well outside his area to start another move which ended with Franklyn’s shot being blocked by a defender.
It was another long ball, from Evans, that allowed Hutchings to get in behind Curt Da Costa and open the scoring.
Royals left-back Conor Bailey - Moneys’ record appearance holder - was the first name in referee Richard Sargeant’s book on 25 minutes for a lunge on the pacy Cornwell. ‘We used to clap those challenges, Conor!’ shouted a home supporter.
Roberts, arriving at the back post, failed to get a header on target before Franklyn - again found in acres of space on the right side - took one more than was needed and saw a shot blocked by Bailey for a corner.
On 32 minutes, Franklyn’s cross was headed against the bar by Hutchings and another Franklyn shot was again deflected for a corner.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, though; twice Wort found space on the right side of the Moneys penalty area but on each occasion couldn’t find Roberts.
Roberts shot straight at Price from 20 yards before Moneys countered quickly again, Hutchings playing in Franklyn on the left who set up Norton for another shot blocked at the expense of a corner.
It wasn’t just Bailey who had to be careful after a caution - Hutchings was the first Moneys player booked for a foul.
Portchester began the second half on the front foot and Price was forced to get down low to beat out a George Barker shot.
Ridge’s 61st minute effort hit the woodwork and Sam Pearce headed a George Colson cross wide shortly after Callum Glen had been booked for attempting to bring down Marley Ridge.
Hutchings sealed victory 13 minutes from time with his 237th goal in 320 appearances for the club.
Roundell’s 25-yarder was tipped over by Price before Carter made a triple substitution, sending on Lamin Jatta, Steve Ramsey and Tom Dinsmore.
But the visitors never looked like getting a goal, let alone two to force penalties, due to a superb defensive display in which Cain was immense and thoroughly deserving of his sponsors’ man of the match award.
It needed something special to deny Hutchings the award, but Cain produced it to keep Roberts and Wort quiet as Portchester failed to score for the first time since their Wessex Premier curtain-raiser at Hamble on August 3.
Franklyn, spotting Mowthorpe well off his line, attempted to chip him from 45 yards out on the left hand touchline, the ball dropping just over the bar.
The final whistle blew seconds later to signal another chapter in Turnbull’s impressive FA Vase story. That’s 10 games since the start of last season, producing nine wins and only a semi-final penalties loss to Bindfield. In only one of those matches, against Bournemouth Poppies, have his side been behind.
If his side can carry on repeating this sort of performance - for Moneyfields were very good from front to back - Turnbull could be going far in the tournament once more.
Moneyfields: Price, Cornwell, Turnbull, Evans, Birmingham (Cripps, 73), Cain, McGlinchey, Glen, Norton (Seiden, 75; Burroughs, 90), Hutchings, Franklyn.
Portchester: Mowthorpe, Colson, Bailey, Roundell (Ramsey, 83), Da Costa, Pearce, McCreadie (Dinsmore, 83), Ridge, Wort, Roberts, Barker (Jatta, 83).