BY MACAULAY DALEY
Harrison Shade scored a late winner as Basingstoke U21’s earned a hard-fought victory against AFC Portchester in the Wyvern Combination Football League.
The captain’s goal, alongside a header from Ross McKernon, kept Basingstoke at the top-of-the-table, whilst leaving Portchester without a win and bottom of the league.
Both teams started slowly and the first chance fell to the away side but they couldn’t convert with the open goal at their mercy.
However, they took the lead in the 26th minute through a well worked goal. A delightful ball over the top was latched onto by their striker, who took a touch before firing into the bottom left hand corner.
With Basingstoke in shock, the visitors nearly doubled their lead shortly after, but the effort was tame and straight at Liam Vaughan.
The home stopper was called into action once again before the break, tipping a looping header over the bar, but it was Basingstoke who had two excellent chances to draw level as the half came to a close.
Firstly, Kaine Macauley struck the inside of the post with a left-footed effort, before Harry Long hit the ball into the side netting following good work from Kieron Rogers on the right wing.
‘Stoke were playing with fire defensively and nearly conceded a second, but Leon Yeoman showed excellent pace to hook the goal bound shot off the line and to safety.
Their luck paid dividends though and they restored parity in the 63th minute. After his free-kick was pushed away for a corner, McKernon stooped to head in the resulting delivery.
Vaughan was called into action shortly after, producing a wonderful save. With the ball bouncing around the ‘Stoke area, a Portchester player swivelled and struck a powerful half-volley, which was tipped onto the post and away for a corner.
With time running out, Basingstoke thought they’d scored the winner, but Long’s header from Luke Richardson’s cross was ruled out for offside, but with just two minutes to go, they did get the winner.
The away goalkeeper failed to collect a cross into the area and the ball was eventually bundled home by Shade, to the relief of the watching fans.
FULL TIME: 2-1
Neville Roach said: “We didn’t start very well and I was really disappointed. I had a few words at half-time with the lads, because they’ve set their standards very high in previous games. I’m absolutely delighted with the result, but performance wise, very disappointed.
“I think it was a case of them being bottom of the league and us thinking it’s going to be an easy ride and the boys didn’t react properly and that was very disappointing.
“It was a good response in the second-half, they went out there and did what I asked them to do which was to work hard and earn the right to play. We got the ball down a lot better, the tempo was high which was pleasing and we got our rewards at the end of the day, but overall the performance wasn’t very good.
“We said to him (Harrison) before the game he’s got to lead by example, he’s an old head as they say within this group of lads and he took his goal well and it was well deserved.
Basingstoke Team: Liam Vaughan; George Marsh (Ryan Powell), Harrison Shade ( C ), Liam Hunt, Leon Yeoman; David Appleton, Harry Long, Ross McKernon (Pedro Monteiro); Luke Richardson, Kieron Rogers, Kaine Macauley (Gabra Wendling).