FOOTBALL: Clarke fires Blues into the last four

Dorset Echo: CUP DOUBLE: Portland’s Lewis Clarke, left CUP DOUBLE: Portland’s Lewis Clarke, left

BRIDPORT RESERVES 0 PORTLAND UNITED 2

LEWIS Clarke was at the double for Portland United as the islanders marched into the semi-finals of the DPL League Cup at St Mary’s Field.

The striker scored either side of the break to help see off the Bees and set up a last-four clash with Mere Town.

The weekend’s 2-0 success could well be a good omen for the Blues given that their next match is away to the Bees again in the league this coming Saturday.

Boss Gary Bailey is hoping to have a bigger squad to pick from for that one after a handful of players, including Ashley Weeks, Ben Doidge and Andy Harris, were unavailable for the cup quarter-final.

Portland coped well despite missing some key faces and Bailey was delighted with the way his men, some of whom were carrying knocks, coped on the day.

“We had a few players missing and two or three had to play patched up, but everyone put in a good shift,” said Bailey.

“Alex Halloran played through the pain barrier with a sore knee and Ross Doidge has got a bad ankle, but they all soldiered on and did a job for us.”

He continued: “It was quite a scrappy affair but we dominated the first half and took the lead after five minutes.

“Ashley Smith went down the right, swung a ball in, and Lewis Clarke got across his man to head in from six yards. That got us off to the perfect start and we created several more chances.

“Carl Mutch headed over on 20 minutes and Ryan McKechnie had a couple of shots that went wide.

“We knew they were going to come at us in the second half and they had a 20-minute spell when we were forced back.

“But we kept our shape really well and limited them to long- range efforts that really didn’t trouble us at all.

“With 15 minutes to go, Shaun Bessant slid the ball through to Lewis who accelerated away from his marker and beat the keeper.

“Adam Linaker came off the bench and had a great chance from six yards but pushed it wide.”

Bailey felt his side’s performance was their best since they returned to action following the enforced break due to the wet weather.

And he is now looking forward to the trip to Mere in the next round with the Blues just one game away from the final, where they would meet either Tintinhull or Hamworthy Recreation.

Bees: B Fleet, C Clarke (Hawker 75), A Clarke, Lock, Senior, Hailu (Herbst 65), M Buckler, Morley (Jones 65), Gale, B Clarke.

Blues: Bickerstaff, Smith, Whyton, Carmichael, Newnham, Mutch (Bessant 70), Halloran, McKechnie, R Doidge, Carlile (Jansz-Baker 75), L Clarke (Linaker 80)

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