US Portsmouth’s Wessex League Division 1 title charge held up by impressive Petersfield
US Portsmouth missed the chance to move three points clear at the top of the Wessex League Division 1 tonight.
Glenn Turnbull’s men were held 1-1 by mid-table Petersfield Town at the Victory Stadium in an end-to-end encounter.
The hosts entered the game boasting the best attack in the division - 72 goals in just 22 games - while the Rams were proud holders of the best defensive record with just 19 shipped in 18 matches.
And in the end honours were shared, with Petersfield certainly deserving their point.
Though their strength is undoubtedly their defence, no way was this a backs-to-the-wall rearguard effort.
In truth, the visitors looked more dangerous going forward for large parts of the game and only a great stop from home keeper Tom Price stopped them motoring back up the A3 with all three points.
Petersfield took a 12th minute lead when skipper Tom Jeffes gave away a penalty by fouling Matt Low - picking up one of the game’s seven bookings as a result.
Will Essai stepped up to fire a well-struck spot-kick to Price’s right.
USP’s response was quick, with Jeffes atoning for his foul by netting his 16th goal of the season. Petersfield made a total hash of dealing with Frankie Paige’s near post corner and Jeffes lashed a loose ball past Matt Petts from six yards out.
Harry Tremlett headed just wide from the third corner the visitors won in quick succession, while left winger Marvin Orepo was a constant danger with his pace on the counter attack.
Just before half-time, Price came to USP’s rescue - blocking a fierce Michael Wright shot after the striker had been played in by Low.
Ex-Petersfield striker Andy Todd was kept fairly quiet for most of the evening, but he was close to giving the hosts the lead within 30 seconds of the restart.
James Franklyn crossed from the left and the unmarked Todd headed wide at the near post.
That was the closest USP were to come to a winner in an even second half not short on commitment - or bookings - but short on clear cut openings at either end.
The nearest Petersfield came to a winner was when centre half Jordan Geddes was left unmarked at a corner, but he headed wastefully over.
Turnbull threw on Cam Quirke and his son Elliott midway through the half, pushing talismanic top scorer Franklyn up front with Todd.
But a well-organised Rams back four - with Geddes and captain Kris Stephens to the fore in the middle - held firm.
USP are now a point clear at the top, but in a tightly congested table are just four points clear of fifth-placed Alton. And the top four are expected to go up.
Turnbull will now be hoping the Rams can take points off other promotion hopefuls. For on this performance, they are certainly capable of doing just that.