PORTLAND United earned a first point of the Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division season with a 1-1 draw against Shaftesbury at the Weyline Stadium.

Coming off the back of a 4-1 loss to AFC Stoneham, boss Brendon King had called for a “turnaround” in the Blues’ display but was instead met with a lacklustre opening against the Rockies.

Shaftesbury enjoyed the better of play for a first 30 minutes that was devoid of clear-cut chances for either side.

After invigorating themselves, the Blues fashioned a chance for Sean Stewart at the far post, although the midfielder missed the target from Ryan McKechnie’s corner.

Poor final balls scuppered the Blues in the run up to half-time as good attacking positions were squandered, making for a goalless first half.

Portland resumed their grip of the game in the second period but once more struggled to produce a meaningful opportunity despite working some promising attacking scenarios.

With the Blues’ final ball again deserting them, the Rockies punished their hosts with 30 minutes to go. Shaftesbury collected a long ball forward and Ryan Mitchell then played a secondary ball over the top for Matty Hindle.

Blues’ goalkeeper Steve Boore rushed out to shepherd the windswept ball out of play but Hindle nipped in and scored from an acute angle to make it 1-0.

With five minutes remaining, Jamie Beasley pumped a long ball to Ben Morris, the winger then supplying Jamie Symes with a fabulous ball into the box.

Symes’ first touch killed the ball and forced away gloveman Luke Hutchings into a sharp stop but the rebound fell perfectly for Symes to tuck home a deserved leveller.

Commenting on the goals, King told Echosport: “Boorey thought the ball was running out with the wind and their lad scoring from an acute angle, which was a little bit disappointing.

“To be fair, the boys showed a bit of character and we got back into it with a good ball from Jamie to find Ben, who played a great ball for Symesy.

“He smashed it and the keeper made a great save but Symesy had a little tap in. We huffed and puffed (late on) without testing the keeper.”

Blues: Boore, Bessant (Rowe 75), Hutchinson, Stewart, L King, S Buckler, McKechnie, M Buckler (Williams 70), Symes, Halloran (Morris 60), Beasley. Subs not used: Butcher, Cox

Match Ball Sponsors: The Cann Family

Man of the Match Sponsor: Hilary Billimore

Progranme Sponsor: Jim Hinde

Mascot: Spencer Bourton

Attendance: 144

Man of the Match: Sam Buckler


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