PORTLAND United boss Franklyn Clarke heaped praise on his young Blues side despite a 3-0 Dorset Senior Cup semi-final loss at the Black Gold Stadium.

Clarke’s men created several chances in the first half, belying their status two divisions beneath the Dolphins.

Wessex League outfit Portland were therefore hugely unlucky to go into half-time 2-0 behind courtesy of two deflected Corby Moore goals.

Portland’s Joel Hewitt had a header ruled out for offside in the second half before Sean Wright wrapped up the win 15 minutes from time for the Southern League side.

Speaking to Echosport, Clarke said: “If they’re honest about it, the first half an hour especially, if someone turned up and didn’t know the levels of the sides and you said: ‘Who’s the Southern Prem team?’ it would be hard to tell and you’d probably go with us.

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“After 40 minutes we’re disappointed not to go ahead.

“Within two minutes they score two goals from two deflected shots on the edge of the box. Sometimes, what can do you?

“I think they both deflected off me, the second one was a heavy one. In terms of work rate, creating chances and going toe-to-toe I’m really proud.”

Portland have made a habit this season of making electric starts to games and not putting chances away, but Clarke cut his team some slack given the nature of the opposition.

He said: “Just to create chances against quality like they have is a credit to the boys.

“There were a few blocks, a few good saves and a few missed chances. Like I say, just to be creating them is a big positive – I’d rather focus on that.

“In terms of being clinical, that will come in time. To come here and do what we’ve done, they can take loads of confidence from that.

“If they can replicate that work ethic and that organisation in a Wessex League game then we’ll be a problem for a lot of teams.”

Portland visit Moneyfields on Saturday (3pm).