Portsmouth beaten as relegation looks likely

Portsmouth City were beaten 3-1 by Essex. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Portsmouth City were beaten 3-1 by Essex. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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PORTSMOUTH CITY slumped to the bottom of the National League division two south after a 3-1 home defeat to Team Essex Estonians.

The loss at the Mountbatten Centre means the threat of relegation now looms large over the City team who have so far only managed one win out of 13 matches.

Alex Menya. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Alex Menya. Picture: Habibur Rahman

They are now one point behind relegation rivals Team Southampton who have 14 points from nine games.

Player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba was disappointed with the display.

He has had to concede his side will be running out of time to save their division two status.

Confidence throughout the side has been hit hard by the bad run of form.

He said: ‘This was another winnable game that has slipped right through our hands and the games are running out.

‘We have got to win some if we have any hopes of staying up.

‘It’s as simple as that. We have lost our confidence and the more games we lose, the more our confidence seems to plummet even further. We have to get a grip and fight.’

Portsmouth’s poor run of results and performances have coincided with the senior players struggling to attend matches.

Saturday’s encounter saw the return to the fold of Damian Roberts and Dominic Wisdom, however, the Worthing based duo could not lift their side to that much needed success.

City, started relatively brightly with the visitors finding it difficult to contain their outside attacks.

But lapses in concentration, especially in the service reception department, allowed Essex to regain composure and wrap up the opening set 25-19.

This forced Ssemuwemba to make a few changes.

He switched Wisdom from middle blocker to opposite attacker, while Mark Byerley came in for Vladislav Hristo to assume the duties of a quick attacker.

The move nearly paid dividends, but yet again Essex held tight to double their advantage 26-24.

City’s playmaker Alex Menya, who is still deputising in the absence of Leandros Tsikras, started to mix things up by bringing his middle players into the game.

This allowed the front line-up of Akram Mahmoud Samir El Saka, Ssemuwemba and Wisdom to have a strong influence on the match.

The trio’s performance saw the home team secure the third set with a score of 25-23.

They carried the momentum into the fourth set.

But their efforts to force the game to a fifth set decider were hampered by a catalogue of embarrassing individual mistakes.

As Portsmouth’s attackers became erratic, their opponents remained calm and composed, going on to seal victory 25-22.

Menya was named man of the match for the second time.

Portsmouth’s next match is away to City of Bristol on Saturday at Brislington Enterprise College (5pm).