PORTLAND United earned a superb 2-0 win at Bournemouth Poppies to record their first Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division win for seven games.

Goals from Lewis Clarke and Ryan McKechnie proved sufficient for the Blues, who move into ninth place with the triumph.

Simon Browne’s men had been winless in the league since early November, when they pulled off an impressive 3-2 win at Blackfield and Langley.

However, the Blues’ victory at Bournemouth looked every bit as impressive for a side shorn of several first-team players, several of whom pulled out less than 24 hours before the match.

Speaking to Echosport about the build-up to the fixture, Browne admitted the game had illustrated the “bizarre” nature of football.

He said: “In terms of how the day went, the first 12 hours were absolutely horrendous and the last 12 were considerably better. I had two players pull out on Friday night and two on Saturday morning.

“I was completely down to the bare bones but I managed to get an 11 out, all of whom have played for the first team. My bench consisted of Lance Wilson and Jordan Moore from the reserves.

“I had Ash Smith, Billy Mitchell, Sanchez Baker, Sean Lillington, Ross Doidge, Alex Halloran out and Shaun Bessant was suspended, the list went on.

“To say I was pulling my hair out was an understatement, but we had a similar thing with Baffins Milton Rovers and we won 6-0, now we won 2-0.

“It makes a mockery of the preparation and it just shows you how football is bizarre and I guess that’s why people get involved in it.”

Portland were handed a good start by Clarke’s early goal, but Browne feared a late leveller before McKechnie sealed the points.

He said: “I brought in Ash Weeks from the reserves. Lewis was on his own up front and ran on and slotted it past the keeper. It gave us a great platform.

“It was really nice to get an early goal because it gave us something to work with and put them on the backfoot. We’ve had a few games this season where we had a 1-0 lead and conceded a late equaliser.

“Lewis was through one-on-one prior to that and the pitch at Victoria Park is not the best, it bobbled and he hit it over the bar when it looked easier to score.

“I thought was this going to be a game where we’ve not taken our chances? But Ryan hooked one over the line, I must have kicked it in about four times!”

Blues: Weeks, Sharpe, S Buckler, Butcher, Payne (Wilson 60), Zima, Evans, McKechnie, Bearwish, Godfrey, L Clarke (Moore 80)