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FOOTBALL: Super-sub Sanchez inspires Portland comeback
12:32pm Sunday 15th September 2013 in Sport
PORTLAND UNITED 3 MERE TOWN 2
SANCHEZ Janz-Baker came off the bench and inspired a late comeback as the Blues secured a hard-fought victory over Mere Town at Grove Corner.
At 2-1 down with just 18 minutes re-maining, the hosts were in desperate need of a lift and the burly substitute provided it, setting up the equaliser for Lewis Clarke before hitting the winner in added time.
Mere fought gallantly throughout and were a constant threat from set-pieces but Portland could have been out of sight at the interval.
With Ross Doidge and Alex Halloran pulling the strings in the midfield, the hosts carved Town open time and again but failed to take full advantage of their dominance and almost paid the price.
Stand-in boss Derek McKay, who was deputising for the absent Gary Bailey, told Echosport: “Mere defended well and to be honest I was impressed with them.
“We knew they would be direct and that is why we went with the back four that we did to combat that but what pleased me most was our intensity.
“We were quite bright all the way around and our work rate to get the ball back was good.
“It was a good performance from the whole squad and on the balance of play a deserved result.
“They went 2-1 up against the run of play and on the volume of chances we created we would have expected it to be more comfortable. However, take nothing away from them because they kept going and made life very difficult for us.”
In fact, the only charity Mere did offer up was in the second minute when keeper Dan Hughes dropped a clanger to hand the hosts an early lead.
Clarke’s tame shot should not have posed a problem for the visiting stopper but somehow he allowed the ball to squirm through his legs and trickle over the goal-line.
That blunder immediately gave Portland a huge boost in confidence but Hughes soon made amends with a fine save to deny Ross Doidge after the midfielder had let fly from 25 yards.
Everything appeared to be going very smoothly for the Blues but on nine minutes they got caught out at a set-piece.
Paul Leatherland delivered the ball into the box and when Ian Bickerstaff could only parry Nick Hewlett’s looping header, there was Buddy O’Shea to strike home the rebound.
Despite that set-back though, Port-land went on to dominate the rest of the half and should have put the game to bed.
Ben Doidge, Joe Toghill, Ed Bastick and Lewis Whyton all should have done better with their heads while Clarke prodded the ball straight at Hughes after being put clean through.
Bastick also raced through towards the end of the half after a fine ball down the right channel from the impressive Tom Carter but the flying winger could only drag his shot wide.
Mere also wasted a good opening on the break when fine hold up play by Jordan Collins led to a chance for Jamie Samways, who was denied by a point-blank stop from Bickerstaff.
The Blues continued to look the better side after the interval but moments after Toghill wasted another opportunity following a glorious pass from Halloran, Mere took a shock lead Two substitutes combined for the goal with Mali Benjamin breaking down the left and setting up Dwayne Forshaw, who showed great desire to get to the ball ahead of Ben Doidge.
The home crowd were stunned but, when an uncharacteristic mistake from Richard Leach allowed Janz-Baker to set Clarke up with a tap-in on 81 minutes, the mood soon lifted.
The Portland faithful could sense a winner and it eventually arrived with seconds remaining when Clarke returned the favour for Janz-Baker to complete the turnaround.
The Blues now sit second in the Bespoke Teamwear Dorset Premier League, just one point adrift of Hamworthy Recreation with a game in hand.
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