PORTLAND UNITED 4 MERLEY COBHAM SPORTS 1
PORTLAND United put an end to their second consecutive title-winning campaign with a solid victory over Merley Cobham Sports.
The visitors gave Gary Bailey’s Blues a guard of honour at Grove Corner as they took to the field for the final time this season, but it was nearly Merley who claimed an early lead.
After experienced forward Stuart Cannie skipped past his man down the right flank, he delivered a cross for Dave Weeden, who struck a low drive on the volley just inches wide of the post.
Into severe winds, visiting goalkeeper John McHugh had a torrid time with his distribution throughout the opening period and Portland striker Carl Mutch nearly capitalised to open the scoring with 15 minutes gone.
After McHugh had dwelled on the ball for too long, his attempted clearance rebounded off of Mutch and bounced just over the crossbar.
Mutch then couldn’t apply a finish from close range when he was played through by Ryan McKechnie, but it was to be third-time lucky for the hitman, as he opened the scoring on 37 minutes.
Winger Ed Bastic, on his return to the side, broke down the right hand side to get in behind the visitors’ backline and rolled the ball to Mutch inside the area, whose deflected shot wrong-footed McHugh and found its way into the back of the net.
And with that, Portland soon doubled their lead when Anthony Carlile’s ball into the area from the left touchline ballooned over everyone with the wind and nestled into the top corner to put the champions well in the ascendancy at half-time.
Carlile then turned provider for the Blues seven minutes into the second period.
His cross found the head of Ashley Smith, who was allowed tonnes of space inside the area to nod the ball into the bottom corner and virtually put the game to bed.
And although Bailey’s men also struggled into the wind in the second half as Graham Rose latched on to a defensive misjudgement to make it 3-1, it was fitting that with virtually the final touch of the Blues’ season, they found the net once again.
Substitute Dan Newnham, who replaced Ben Doidge just short of the hour mark, popped up at the back post to head home and cap what was a comfortable win for the hosts.
After his side were presented with the Dorset Premier League Trophy, Blues’ manager Bailey told Echosport: “It was the right way to sign off really.
“The conditions were difficult but we were patient and thoroughly deserved it, I thought we played the better football and it was nice to finish the season with a good win in front of a good crowd.
“We ask a lot of the players and they give it back in bucket loads, they thoroughly deserve the success they have, it’s not by chance.
“The backroom staff as well with Derek McKay, Mark Bowley and Ian Fox, it’s a whole team effort here as well as the players and everybody connected with the club deserves the success.”
Chairman Robin Satherley added: “On behalf of the committee of Portland United Football Club I would like to congratulate all the players on winning the league for the second year in succession.
“We look forward to hopefully having more and more celebratory occasions at Grove Corner for our fans, who are extremely loyal and we look forward to trying to make it three years in a row.”
Blues: Weeks, Smith, B Doidge (Newnham 58), Carmichael, Bessant, McKechnie, Bastic (Whyton 76), Halloran, R Doidge, Mutch (Carter 69), Carlile
Merley Cobham Sports: McHugh, Shering, Mills, Pritchard, Phillips, Cherrett, McCormick, Atkinson, Rose, Cannie, Weeden Sub not used: Randall
Bookings: Blues – Carmichael (foul, 56)
Merley Cobham Sports - Cherrett (foul, 20) Cannie (foul, 46)
Match Ball Sponsor: Jack Sansom
Match Sponsor: Ray and Hilary Billimore