BLUES’ boss Chris Wilson hailed his side's battling qualities and a heroic goalkeeping performance from Ashley Weeks as Portland gained a highly satisfying point in their battle of the Dorset Premier League heavyweights at Magna Road.

The draw means United remain third in the league table level on points with second-placed Rec but, importantly, hold four games in hand on their keen rivals.

“To come here and grind out a result without centre-backs Scott Henley and Lewis Whyton is incredible.

“We had to show grit and character as we were not at our best when Rec probably were, while Ashley was phenomenal in goal and he clearly kept us in the game,” said a delighted Wilson.

Fortunately for the visitors they were able to replace absentees Henley and Whyton in central defence with Ross Carmichael and Andy Harris who had to deal with a bombardment from the hosts after the half-hour mark when they edged in front with a fantastic team goal finished off by Moores.

The visitors had begun well enough with Joe Toghill stretching to send an early effort wide before Walden prevented Adam Linaker adding to his season's tally with a last-ditch tackle.

After ten minutes, Weeks made a hash of a clearance that went straight to Sands but, fortunately for the Blues, his shot flew over.

The tempo was fast and furious as Linaker sent a snap shot over the bar, Stone skewed a chance at the other end wide of the target before Carmichael snuffed out the danger posed by Moores in the 29th minute who had been put through on goal by Willis.

When Rec scored two minutes later the move began in their own box and a terrific team goal ended with Stone crossing from the edge of the six-yard box for Moores to slot home.

And before the break the home side could have added a second but Weeks won a one-on-one with a great stop to thwart Stone, and then the keeper made an even better save by tipping Moores’ whistling drive onto the bar and out for a corner.

The second period began at the same intensity with Moores forcing Weeks to make a smart save just two minutes in.

In the 51st minute, Linaker’s header from a corner was well held by home stopper Park and then immediately the action switched to the other end as Stone went one-on-one with Weeks again.

For the second time though there was a similar outcome as Weeks made a terrific block with his feet and the game remained end-to-end for the rest of the half.

On the hour Blackburn blazed over for Rec before the Blues grabbed an equaliser seven minutes later when, from a free-kick, a mix-up between Park and Moores, saw the keeper spill the ball and when it was centred back in there was Linaker to knock home.

From that point both sides went in search of a winner with Moores shooting narrowly wide at one end before Toghill’s dangerous corner was well dealt with by Park right under his crossbar.

Late on Linaker volleyed wide and Stone shot weakly when others were better placed a minute from time as honours remained even.

Blues: Weeks, Dailley, Carmichael (Newnham), Doidge, Harris, Vincent, Smith, Halloran (Skelton), Conning (Mutch), Lineker, Toghill.