FOOTBALL: Blues seal final crunch with Rec

ON THE MARK: Portland's Lewis Clarke, left

ON THE MARK: Portland's Lewis Clarke, left

First published in Sport Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

MERE TOWN 1 PORTLAND UNITED 2

PORTLAND United set up a DPL League Cup final showdown with Hamworthy Recreation after goals from Alex Halloran and Lewis Clarke saw them see off Mere Town in the last four.

Victory for the Blues was perhaps a bit more comfortable than the scoreline suggests, though they did have to survive some late pressure from the hosts.

Halloran gave the visitors a 13th-minute lead with a free-kick from close to the touchline that skimmed over the heads of everyone in the Mere box before nestling in the far corner.

Then, on 57 minutes, Halloran’s surging run into the home side’s area drew a foul which allowed Clarke to score from the penalty spot.

Portland had already lost Ross Carmichael to an asthma attack in the first half when Dan Newnham (ankle) and Clarke (hamstring) both had to go off during the second period.

Mere pulled a goal back with six minutes remaining and went for an equaliser, but it was Portland’s Ross Doidge and substitute Ed Bastic who went closest to scoring late on.

“You always want to play well but cup games are just about winning and getting to the final,” said Blues’ boss Gary Bailey.

“It’s never nice to lose in a semi-final and at 2-0 up I didn’t feel we were going to.

“The lads played their hearts out and thoroughly deserved to win, and it’s nice to get to the final.”

Commenting on the game in more detail, he added: “They caused us some problems and there were patches where Ash- ley Weeks had to relieve the pressure.

“But, on the whole, and without playing sparkling football, we were definitely the better side on the day.

“We started brightly and took the lead through Alex’s free-kick but the half became really stretched and we didn’t keep possession that well.

“We came out for the second half and got a foothold in the game without really dominat- ing.

“Alex beat two or three players and was brought down for the penalty which Lewis scored, but then we lost Dan and Lewis to injury after Ross had to go off in the first half.

“We gave away a corner and they bundled one in late on but Ross skimmed the post and Ed went through and shot just wide.”

Portland return to league action on Wednesday when they visit Swanage Town & Herston at Days Park (7.30pm).

Blues: Weeks, Smith, Whyton, Carmichael (B Doidge 25), Newnham (Mutch 60), McKechnie, R Doidge, Halloran, Beasley, L Clarke (Bastic 75), Carlile

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