FOOTBALL: Portland United ready to celebrate title success

OPENER: Alex Halloran

OPENER: Alex Halloran

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

PORTLAND UNITED 2 PARLEY SPORTS 0

PORTLAND United stand on the brink of successive Dorset Premier League titles and now know that only a freak set of results would see them fail to lift the trophy.

The only other team that can pip them to first place, Merley Cobham Sports, need a mathematical miracle to deny the Blues, who should be able to start their celebrations at Mere Town tomorrow (3pm).

Two goals in as many second half minutes gave Portland the three points against Parley at Grove Corner, with Adam Linaker adding to Alex Halloran’s opener.

His side moved to the top of the table with the win and can only lose the title on goal difference now, but Blues’ boss Gary Bailey is still not taking anything for granted.

“We’ve got one hand on the trophy now but we can’t celebrate until it’s mathematically impossible for Merley to catch us,” he said.

“It would be wrong for me to say we had won it and I’m not prepared to do that just yet.”

A point from their last two games would guarantee the Blues the title, though they hold a vastly superior goal difference than Merley, who they play next Saturday.

The Parley victory did come at a cost however, with captain Lewis Whyton, Dan Newnham and Linaker all picking up knocks which are set to see them miss tomorrow’s fixture.

Ed Bastic has returned to university but Ross Carmichael and Ross Doidge are back in the squad.

Commenting on Saturday’s triumph, Bailey added: “We had lots of possession but were unable to finish off our chances.

“We did everything but score in the first half, but we stayed patient and kept asking questions of Parley.

“We couldn’t really relax until we got the first goal and when the second came shortly after it relieved the pressure.

“The lads got a bit sloppy in the last few minutes and invited pressure from them, but they never looked like scoring.

“We got the win and I thought we deserved it.”

In truth, the hosts should have been out of sight by the break but they missed a number of good chances, the best falling to Linaker on six minutes.

He squandered a one-on-one opportunity and from then on it was a series of close calls for Bailey’s men.

Antony Carlile, Linaker and Bastic could have opened the scoring before the interval but the deadlock was finally broken in the 63rd minute when Halloran swept home.

And just two minutes later, Linaker found the back of the net after good wing play from Carlile and a cutback by Bastic.

The game became slightly fractious from then on – both sides had two players booked during the second period – and Linaker went closest to adding a third for the Blues.

Blues: Weeks, Newnham (Skelton 61), B Doidge, Bessant, Whyton (Camp 64), McKechnie, Bastic (Hansford 71), Halloran, Smith, Linaker, Carlile

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