‘We fell short of the standard we set ourselves’ – all the entertainment is off the pitch as US Portsmouth and Christchurch fire blanks in Wessex League stalemate

US Portsmouth were unable to give the largest Victory Stadium crowd of the season something to cheer about.

By Simon Carter
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 2:15 pm
Pre-match entertainment at US Portsmouth v Christchurch. Picture: Charlotte Jeffes.
Pre-match entertainment at US Portsmouth v Christchurch. Picture: Charlotte Jeffes.

To celebrate Non-League Day, the club had laid on pre-match entertainment with a marching band and dance troupe.

Former players and officials also returned for the day with the club celebrating 60 years as either Portsmouth Royal Navy or its current guise.

A crowd of 177 was higher than all of USP’s derby games against the likes of Moneyfields, Baffins and Horndean, though all those were midweek fixtures.

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US Portsmouth keeper Dylan Kramer in action against Christchurch. Picture: Charlotte Jeffes.

But on the pitch there was very little to get excited about in what USP boss Tom Grice described as the ‘classic end of season’ encounter – a 0-0 bore draw with Christchurch.

‘It wasn’t a great spectacle if I’m being completely honest,’ he stated.

‘The teams just cancelled each other out. At half-time we told the players to grab the game by the scruff of its neck, but we didn’t.

‘Off the field, the whole day was a success, a lot of people had put a lot of effort into it. It was just a shame we couldn’t back it up on the field.

US Portsmouth v Christchurch. Picture: Charlotte Jeffes.

‘We knew Christchurch would sit deep, but we didn’t take it to them at all, which was frustrating.’

The ‘highlight’ of a forgettable encounter came in the second half when USP keeper Dylan Kramer was booked for bringing down a Christchurch attacker just outside his six-yard box. But the subsequent penalty was struck wide of the post.

It was the third time in eight days that USP had failed to score at home, and they have now fired four successive blanks. But at least they ended a run of five straight Premier Division defeats.

Against that, Kramer kept what was only his club’s sixth clean sheet in 36 league fixtures - and two of the previous five had come against relegated Amesbury.

US Portsmouth's Cameron Quirke in action against Christchurch. Picture: Charlotte Jeffes.

‘I was disappointed at how we performed,’ said Grice. ‘We fell short of the standards we have set ourselves.’

US were minus assistant manager Tom Jeffes, who had been sent off for two yellow cards in the previous week’s home loss to Shaftesbury. Josh Stream, Wes Luff, Owen Scammell and George Hopwood all started as Grice continues to give youth a chance.

Next up for US are two more home games, against Brockenhurst next Saturday and AFC Portchester the following Tuesday.