PORTLAND United got their title challenge back on track by edging out Holt at Grove Corner.

Once again, the Blues were far from convincing but, after their shock defeat at Blandford United back on February 8, the result was always going to be the most important thing.

The victory keeps the islanders just two points off the top of the Dorset Premier League with games in hand on all the sides around them.

Portland boss Gary Bailey said: “It was very scrappy and it was not the best performance in the world, but it was all about getting back to winning ways after the disappointment at Blandford a couple of weeks ago.

“It has been very stop-start lately with all the postponements we have had and, as a result, we found it hard to get any rhythm going, but I think we deserved to win it in the end.”

Portland played against the wind in the first half and looked pretty solid until a speculative effort from 35 yards caught out keeper Ashley Wells for the opening goal on the half hour.

That strike was a little harsh on the Blues, but they were soon back level when Adam Linaker fired home from 12 yards just before the break following a lovely interchange of passes.

With the elements in their favour in second period, Portland then looked to push on and take control but chances went begging, and at one stage it appeared it might be one of those days.

Holt then enjoyed a good 10-minute spell in which they hit the crossbar before the game’s turning point arrived following an incident involving Ben Doidge.

Bailey added: “They had a lad sent off with 20 minutes to go for dissent.

“There was a coming together and Ben landed on him, but the lad thought he had been stamped on and went on to give the referee a load of abuse.

“After that, we got back on top and eventually got the winner with 10 minutes left.”

Substitute Carl Mutch created the goal when he was rugby tackled in the box by the visiting keeper, giving the man in the middle no other choice but to point to the spot.

The Holt stopper somehow escaped without even a booking but he could do nothing to stop Lewis Clarke from finding the net with the resulting spot-kick.

Bailey said: “We did enough in the end but what we really need now is a run of games.

“Everyone is desperate to get some rhythm back and we are now looking forward to next Saturday’s Dorset Premier League Cup quarter-final tie at Bridport Reserves.”

Portland: Weeks, S Clarke, Whyton, Carmichael, B Doidge, Smith, Halloran (Hansford 65), McKechnie, Carlile, L Clarke, Linaker (Mutch 55). Sub not used: R Doidge.

Matchball sponsor: Derek Cribb