Passfield (og), Rowe, Morris

PORTLAND United closed the gap on Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division leaders Arlesford Town to five points with a comfortable 3-0 win at Fleet Town.

Victorious over the same opponents 5-0 in September, Portland anticipated a stronger Fleet but still dished out a defeat outcome as the Blues recorded their first clean sheet in six games.

As expected, Fleet were much improved since their drubbing at Portland in the League Cup.

Ryan McKechnie and Jamie Symes had gone close with headers but it was against the run of play when the visitors scored.

Portland left-back James Cox helped create the goal, bending in a teasing cross that proved too dangerous for the Fleet defence to leave, as centre-half Bradley Passfield smashed the ball into his own top corner.

Fleet piled on the pressure in response but debutant Tom Rees – signed from Weymouth on dual forms – was untroubled in the Blues’ goal as Portland led 1-0 at half-time.

Portland, unhappy with their first-half display, came out with intent in the second and saw Alex Halloran set Bailey Rowe free, but the Fleet goalkeeper thwarted the British Virgin Islands striker.

Brendon King’s men grabbed their second from a counter attack as the impressive Cox stole the ball and strode forward, laying off to Jamie Beasley.

The winger took possession, veered at goal and unleashed a rasping effort that was beaten away only as far as Rowe, who tucked home for 2-0.

Portland were now in control and got a third through Ben Morris’ magnificent mazy run and left-footed finish from 18 yards into the top corner.

Speaking to Echosport, King lavished praise on his defence following a “deserved” victory.

He said: “I thought we thoroughly deserved the win in terms of how well we defended as a unit.

“The centre-halves, Symesy and Luke King were fantastic. We rode our luck a couple of times.

“Otherwise, some of the defensive play was really good. I’m really pleased with the win.”

He added: “Sometimes you’ve got to go away from home with backs against the wall at times, dig in and get a result.

“We did that and came away with a 3-0. It probably flattered us a little bit, but we’ll take that all day long.”

Portland gained three points on leaders Alresford after their heavy 4-1 loss at Horndean and go on to host Solent University on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).

Blues: Rees, Bastick (Bessant 70), L King, Symes, Cox, Stewart, Halloran, McKechnie (M Buckler 60), Morris, Beasley (Clarke 75), Rowe.


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