Bashley 2 AFC Portchester 1
Bashley, still missing their captain and key defenders, were fortified by the signing of ex-AFC Bournemouth midfielder Dan O’Sullivan. Now boasting a crucial three-Dan-spine, speared headed by Dan Munday and rear-guarded by Dan Thompson with O’Sullivan a Dan-in-the-middle, the home side attacked from the start and could have scored in the fifth minute when a half chance from Munday was cleared off the line with the goalkeeper beaten. Munday almost made amends a few minutes later when inches away from an excellent behind the defence cross from the prancing Hugh Dathan.
The breakthrough came after 34 minutes when the ball fell to Cameron Beard on the edge of the box who, despite close attention, energetically turned to unleash a net-bulging shot past the startled keeper. Bashley were now in full flight and Beard could have had a second when a powerful run and shot by Sullivan was deflected into his path: this time keeper Charlie Searle had no trouble dealing with his shot.
Munday was a thorn in the flesh and was unlucky not to score when, fed by an astute Harrison White through-ball, his goal-bound effort was kneed away by Searle. Within sight of halftime a tackle by Brad Strickland within the area was, to the surprise of most, ‘adjudged’ a foul and Royal’s captain Steve Ramsey happily accepted this Christmas gift and Portchester were level. Sensing a change, the Royals attacked from the re-start and Bash’s young keeper Isaac Haigh, in for the injured Jason Collins, stopped the momentum with a goal-line save.
On the cusp of halftime, a long shot from Strickland was only half saved and Beard was on hand to restore Bashley’s lead from close range.
It was a determined AFC Portchester who came out for the second half playing more like a team residing at the top end of the table. They dominated play for the first twenty minutes and were unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside. Mid-fielder Liam Farrugia co-opted into centre-defence, and the ever-reliable Dan Thomson stood firm against this onslaught; wingbacks Jack Smith and Sam Jackson, now fully engaged in defensive duties, played their part whilst keeper Haigh could be seen gaining in confidence and match-ability as the game progressed.
The pressure eased, helped by the endless energy of Munday who harried and chased across the pitch and chances were now to be had at both ends. White, harvesting his share of half cleared corners and was unlucky to see his on-target attempts finding defensive bodies or the diving keeper.
In the end it was young Haigh who saved the day when finger-tipping over the bar a comical bouncing ball that looped over his head as he was falling backwards.
Bashley: Haigh, Smith, Jackson, Strickland, Thompson, Farrugia, Dathan, White, Munday, O’Sullivan, Beard
Used Subs: None
Photo: 2-Goal Cameron Beard