OVER-35s 4 UNDER-35s 2
THE old guard came out on top in the annual HMP/YOI Portland Over-35s versus Under-35s charity match.
The contest, raising money for Julia’s House, was held at Portland United’s Grove Corner.
Under-35 right-back Gareth Burrows was forced to withdraw after pulling his calf muscle in the warm-up.
The void was filled by Burrows’ namesake Troy, no relation, and it was the replacement who gifted the Over-35s a fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock against the run of play when he unnecessarily handled in the box.
Referee Sean Phelps had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Terry Oldrid placed the resultant penalty neatly into the keeper’s left-hand corner.
The Under-35s had seen the lion’s share of possession and a wonder goal by Graham Butler saw them draw level.
The centre-back collected the ball inside his own half and as space opened up in front of him, he spotted Michael Garbett off his line and struck a crisp effort from the halfway line, which dipped just underneath the crossbar.
That goal heralded a response from the old guard and they were soon back in front when an inviting ball into the box from Joe Homer was deftly glanced into the far corner by the head of Jay Roberts.
The Under-35s were determined to get back on the level terms and they did so from a Butler free-kick.
His lofted delivery was collected by Dan Skelton and he showed neat skill on the byline to beat his marker and cross to the far post where Brian Leneghan stooped to head home.
The second half was controlled by the Over-35s with the trio of Steve Hodson, Oldrid and Tony Walker all pulling the strings in midfield and Dave Hunter always looking a threat up top.
The Under-35s did not go without their opportunities and had it not been for some poor finishing by Skelton, their tally could well have been increased.
At the other end, Martyn Hillier broke through one-on-one and after his initial shot was well blocked by keeper Aaron Burrows, his follow-up was flashed high and wide.
With 10 minutes remaining it was dangerman Hunter who linked up with Oldrid and Hodson to turn his marker in the box and slot past a wrong-footed Burrows.
Substitute Dave White then sealed the victory with an emphatic strike seconds from the final whistle. The game ended 4-2 in the Over-35s’ favour, with over £175 raised for Julia’s House.
Referee Phelps nominated Over-35s left-back Craig Hughes as the man of the match and winner of the Elaine Legg Memorial Trophy.
Match organiser Stephen Quine is now hoping to create a link between Portland United FC and HMP/YOI Portland’s Release on Temporary Licence prisoners.
Quine said: “I’d like to thank Robin, Dave, Darren and Matt at Portland for helping us to get this game on at such short notice.
“I’m now hoping to forge a link with PUFC where we get well behaved prisoners released on a temporary licence to help out at Grove Corner, whether it’s for painting, general maintenance, landscaping or such like.
“We are always looking at building mutually beneficial links within the local community and this is a partnership that could well get the go ahead.”