‘Worst we have played all season’ – but US Portsmouth still sentence rock bottom Hythe & Dibden to 13th successive Wessex Premier defeat

US Portsmouth ended a four-match Wessex League Premier Division losing streak with victory at rock bottom Hythe & Dibden.

By Simon Carter
Sunday, 10th October 2021, 12:03 pm
Joe Johnson netted US Portsmouth's second goal in their 2-1 Wessex Premier success at Hythe & Dibden. Picture: Neil Marshall
Joe Johnson netted US Portsmouth's second goal in their 2-1 Wessex Premier success at Hythe & Dibden. Picture: Neil Marshall

Goals from assistant manager Tom Jeffes and top scorer Joe Johnson saw them open up a 2-0 lead on the Waterside.

And even though Hythe replied, with their first goal in 12 league and cup matches, US held on for a third away league win of the season.

But for the performance of the two keepers - the visitors’ Dylan Kramer and Hythe’s on-loan Pompey Academy shot-stopper Conor Manderson - it would have been a far higher scoring encounter.

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‘Though we won, the first half was the worst we have played since I’ve been manager,’ conceded US boss Tom Grice.

‘We kept giving the ball away cheaply, our work ethic was not there.

‘Hythe weren’t a walkover at all - if it wasn’t for Dylan Kramer we could have been three or 4-1 down at half-time. They won’t be sitting on zero points for much longer.

‘Their keeper (Masterson) was absolute class, he played really well - but for the two keepers you’d be looking at sixes and sevens for both sides.’

After an interval ‘talking to’ - football manager speak for a rollocking - Grice got ‘a positive reaction’ and Johnson, recalled to the starting XI after a hamstring doubt saw him on the bench for the midweek loss to Horndean, doubled the lead with his eighth goal of the term.

Hythe’s long, long wait for a league goal - August 17 had been the last day they netted in the Wessex - was ended when George Ashby’s free-kick went through the US wall. ‘It was a poor, poor wall,’ said Grice as Hythe netted for only third time in 13 Premier fixtures.

US handed a debut to Florjet Vulcaj, who came on in central midfield in the second half but who ended up at centre half alongside Jeffes after Obi Saidy went off with a tight hamstring.

With John Cass suspended due to five bookings, Frankie Paige - in central midfield against Horndean - returned to right-back and Cam Quirke was recalled to central midfield.

Grice is hopeful of strengthening his squad in the next week or so, with centre half Connor Grant - recently of Horndean - training again this week.

‘So far, we’ve beaten the teams I expected us to beat and haven’t been the ones we probably weren’t expected to beat,’ outlined the boss.

‘At the moment, I’d say we were on course for a mid-table bottom half finish, but with the standard of players I’m being offered I think we could potentially be talking top 10.

‘That would be a hell of a success considering we lost about 80 per cent of our players and I haven’t paid anyone a penny this season.’

US travel to AFC Stoneham next weekend and a meeting with their former striker Callum Laycock, who took his seasonal goal tally to 10 on Saturday with a double in a 4-2 win at Alresford.