PORTLAND UNITED 0

BROCKENHURST 4

Obeng 54, 84, 90+1, Wilson 67

PORTLAND United succumbed 4-0 to Brockenhurst as Silvano Obeng scored a clinical hat-trick to hand the Wessex League Premier Division leaders all three points.

The Blues, who stay 15th, had matched their high-flying opposition for more than a half until Obeng’s treble and Patrick Wilson’s strike inflated the scoreline.

For all the positives in the Blues’ display, this was the sixth time in seven games their defence has shipped four goals.

That statistic barely seemed possible following a first half full of endeavour and good play.

Portland won a cluster of free-kicks inside the first 10 minutes, the last of which from Oli Lowes whipped into a dangerous area without tempting a gamble from a teammate.

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Harry Hutchinson was alert to block Leon Carbayo-Borges in Brockenhurst’s first meaningful attack before a howling wind drove rain horizontally across the pitch.

Portland looked to use the conditions to their favour as player-boss Franklyn Clarke tried his luck from 30 yards, ex-Weymouth youth keeper James Mayo equal to the task.

Ben Morris also tested Mayo from 25 yards after tenacious work from Josh Williams before Portland’s Danny Griffiths saw yellow for a late slide tackle.

Ronan Moore curled the free-kick wide and seconds later Clarke had a big chance only for the ball to stick in his feet, Mayo saving his 20-yard effort.

Clarke’s assistant Sam Poole was then in the thick of the action, earning yellow for bringing down Matt Sheedy and then heading away the free-kick under pressure beside the near post.

With the poor weather relenting in the second half, Obeng showed a flash of the danger he possessed with a quickfire shot at Blues’ keeper Mike Edgar – the first save he had to make.

Edgar was picking the ball out of the back of the net in the 54th minute, however.

Portland appealed for what looked a credible shout for a penalty as Lowes was sent tumbling in the box.

Brockenhurst then countered through James Shorey and the ball found its way to Obeng to slot home from 12 yards.

The Badgers’ Christie Ward missed a good chance three minutes later and Portland replied when Morris looped a shot onto the top of the bar with Mayo poised to act.

As both teams sensed more goals, Clarke and Williams fired off target for the Blues before Ward forced a good stop from Edgar.

From the resulting corner, Brockenhurst grabbed their second as centre-back Wilson drifted into the box before bundling home on 67 minutes.

Portland introduced Joel Hewitt, Nate Kelly and Riley Weedon for Clarke, Lowes and Marcus Smith in search of a goal.

However, a nervy moment for Poole almost gave Brockenhurst a third when the centre-half sliced a clearance wide of goal.

While that incident had a touch of fortune to it, the Blues could argue their misfortune for the third goal as Obeng, seemingly offside, raced onto a through ball and lifted an accomplished finish over Edgar.

There was still time for Obeng to complete his hat-trick, ruthlessly burying a cross in the 91st minute to take home the match ball and the three points.

Speaking to Echosport, Blues’ boss Clarke said: “For 55 minutes it’s 0-0 and Oli’s gone in the box, been tackled from the wrong side and the referee hasn’t given a pen.

“They went up the other end and scored straight away, that’s a massive blow and the momentum of the game’s changed at that point.

“The second one it was a great delivery, sometimes you have to say the lad’s got there first and had desire for the ball with a good finish.

“We pushed forward trying to get a goal and they’ve got another two but I thought (Obeng) was definitely the difference.

“We went toe-to-toe with them, so I was proud of the boys.”

Asked if Portland had lost concentration while appealing for the penalty, Clarke added: “Yeah, maybe. I was guilty of that myself.

“There was five or six of us appealing for the pen. We didn’t lack concentration, we came back in and were trying to recover but it must’ve been five seconds and they’ve put the ball in the back of our net.

“The lads didn’t switch off but the question definitely had to be asked about the penalty.”

On claims of offside for the third goal, Clarke said: “I’m not going to moan about decisions, sometime later in the season those decisions will go for us.

“I was on the halfway line, I couldn’t see. Our defenders said he was a good couple of yards (offside) but you have to do the job yourself, make sure you do enough.

“We just came up short. I don’t think anyone expected us to go and win against Brockenhurst but we went toe-to-toe with them for 55 minutes.”

Portland visit Cowes Sports on Saturday (3pm).

Blues: Edgar, Thomas, Hutchinson, Griffiths, Poole, Williams, Smith (Weedon 78), McKechnie, Morris, Lowes (Kelly 70), F Clarke (Hewitt 67). Subs not used: Lucas, Ryan

Match ball sponsors: Josie & Paul Butcher

Attendance: 55