Godfrey 33


Wood 4, 43

PORTLAND United slipped to their second successive home Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division defeat with a 2-1 reverse against Shaftesbury at a foggy Weyline Stadium.

Ben Wood handed the Rockies a fourth-minute lead with a drilled low shot into the bottom-right corner following a good run.

Blues’ midfielder Tom Richardson then hit the bar with a swerving volley from 30 yards out before Alex Godfrey hit the post.

But Godfrey levelled with a tap-in before Wood grabbed a second on the counter to condemn the hosts to defeat.

Looking to get back on the winning trail following a 3-2 defeat to fellow title-hopefuls Horndean last time out, Blues' manager Brendon King made four changes to his starting XI, with Sam and Max Buckler, Crit Clarke and the suspended Ryan McKechnie making way.

In came Alex Halloran, filling in at left-back, Stephen Walker, Alex Godfrey and Darren Watts.

If King had been hoping for a quick start in thick fog and drizzle, the Blues’ boss would have been perturbed as Shaftesbury opened the scoring inside four minutes.

A quick move on the right induced Walker to dive in and Wood skipped around his challenge before cutting inside with time and space to aim a low shot 20 yards out through the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Mike Edgar.

Portland’s sloppy start continued as the hosts struggled to preserve possession kicking against the billowing wind.

However, a throw-in routine involving Alex Halloran and Jamie Beasley fed the ball to Richardson, who volleyed a ferocious dipping effort against the bar.

Richardson’s effort suddenly got Portland ticking and a slick move involving Godfrey and Symes played Beasley in on the left but the tall winger’s low cross evaded every player in the box.

Seconds later, Rockies’ gloveman Jon Hill gave the ball away to Godfrey and although his low 20-yard shot beat the keeper, it clattered against the far post and out of play.

Portland were slowly beginning to monopolise possession but the visitors carried a threat on the counter and Lewis Whyton was penalised for holding forward Greg Peel back.

Peel stepped up to whip a dipping free-kick that Edgar excelled in pushing over the bar.

With 12 minutes until half-time, Portland were level with the move of the first half.

Beasley outstripped right-back Elliot Eavis with a surging run down the left before supplying a superb cross at the back stick for Richardson, whose header was brilliantly saved by Hill.

As good as Hill’s save was, the rangy keeper could only parry as far as Godfrey who slotted home into the bottom left corner from 12 yards.

Just two minutes before half-time, Shaftesbury converted their menace on the break into a 2-1 half-time lead.

Jason Stripp began the counter by finding Peel who collected the midfielder’s pass and slipped in Wood with a well-weighted ball for the striker to shoot left-footed into the far corner for a brace.

After the resumption, Shaftesbury enjoyed their best spell of possession and King responded by bringing on Ed Bastick for Richardson.

Two minutes after coming on, Bastick drew a foul from Matt Chant and Beasley’s dipping free-kick was tipped over by Hill.

As the drizzle turned to torrential, driving rain with under 20 minutes to play, referee Paul Barber booked Hill for persistent time wasting before Watts rifled a skidding shot straight at the Rockies’ stopper.

Hill was in action again when he skewed a clearance before Jamie Symes lifted his immediate attempt over the bar with the keeper scampering back.

As Portland poured forward in search of a leveller, Shaftesbury’s front three looked increasingly dangerous on the break and Matt Hindle saw a goalbound effort blocked by a sliding Shaun Bessant.

Halloran then delivered a teasing cross for Walker that forced Hill into an unconvincing sliced punch behind for a corner that Portland could not benefit upon.

Walker’s fabulous flicked header released Bastick in space down the left and the winger’s pinpoint cross was headed at goal by Godfrey only to see the ball ricochet off the covering defender on the line and off Hill to safety.

Sean Stewart won a late free-kick but Watts’ delivery caught the wind and sailed over Bessant’s head at the far post as Portland’s efforts proved in vain.

Portland: Edgar, Bessant, Halloran, Stewart, Whyton, Walker, Richardson (Bastick 53), Watts, Symes, Godfrey, Beasley. Subs not used: Butcher, B Mitchell

Shaftesbury: Hill, Eavis, J Mitchell, Hewlett, Chant, Stripp, Hindle, Morgan (R Mitchell 90+2), Peel, Wood, Bevis (Lane-Leney 80).

Referee: Paul Barber (Bournemouth)

Attendance: 67

Match Ball Sponsor: Ray Collins

Programme Sponsor: Palmer Snell, Weymouth


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