PORTSMOUTH UNIVERSITY 1 WEYMOUTH 0
THE Seasiders have been knocked off the top of Hampshire Two for the first time since October following a narrow defeat at Portsmouth University.
The 1-0 loss was Weymouth’s second in a row on the road and it has allowed Bournemouth Thirds to take over at the summit after they cruised to a 4-0 victory over New Milton.
It has also moved third-placed Portsmouth to within three points of the Seasiders although they still have to play Bourne-mouth in their penultimate game of the season.
Weymouth were without centre-back Michael Westlake and left-back Roland Gill, which caused a bit of a reshuffle with captain Simon Harvey moving into the centre of defence and forward Luke Drewitt to right-back – a position he used to play at under-16 level for Dorset and South West England.
The game got off to a cagey start with both teams giving respect to the other's position in the league. The Seasiders were cautious not to expose their adjusted defence by attacking in high numbers and, as a result, found difficulty overloading the Portsmouth back four.
Similarly, the visitors held a strong defensive formation and resisted the students’ early pressure until the breakthrough finally arrived midway through the half following a Weymouth error.
A loose pass fell to a Ports-mouth midfielder and he duly picked out one of his forwards for a deflection, which flew into the top-left corner of the goal.
To their credit, Weymouth reacted positively to that setback and had the greater share of possession as they approached half-time.
Forward Patrick May was able to engineer several chances from wide on the baseline but his accurate passes across goal could not be picked up by his fellow attackers.
At the break, it was clear that Weymouth needed to make changes in order to get back into the game so Drewitt was given more of a licence to get forward in the hope of overloading the Portsmouth left-back.
The away side certainly went on to enjoy a greater share of the possession but they were unable to penetrate the circle with any clear chances.
Much of the rest of the game took place in the Portsmouth half, which not only made space limited but also offered the hosts more freedom on the break.
Weymouth kept their defensive concentration and organisation but they continued to be frustrated in their search for that elusive equaliser.
In fact, the Seasiders won just two penalty corners during the match and continue to remain unsuccessful this year in converting their set-pieces.
Today, Weymouth host Chich-ester Thirds at Redlands but of the top three it is Portsmouth that will face the toughest fixture of the weekend at fourth-placed Basingstoke Seconds. Bournemouth make the trip to struggling Southampton Seconds.
Man of the Match: Luke Drewitt
Hampshire Two: Bournemouth III 4 New Milton 0, Havant IV 1 Winchester III 5, Portsmouth & Southsea 3 Basingstoke II 1, Tadley 2 Southampton II 1, Univ of Portsmouth 1 Weymouth 0.
Hampshire Two: Basingstoke II v University of Portsmouth, New Milton v Portsmouth & Southsea, Southampton II v Bournemouth III, Southampton Univ III v Havant IV, Weymouth v Chichester III, Winchester III v Tadley.