Morris, Batista

PORTLAND United collected a second straight Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division away win as the Blues saw off Bournemouth Poppies 2-0 in Lewis Whyton’s 500th appearance for the club.

Whyton, a Blues stalwart in defence, came on with eight minutes remaining after goals from Ben Morris and Eder Batista helped Brendon King’s men back up the 3-1 victory at Amesbury Town two weeks ago, cementing 10th spot.

King feared the Poppies’ pitch would be unpredictable following storms Ciara and Dennis and the surface did prove to be tricky.

Portland’s concern led to a change in shape with three up front and the Blues quickly imposed themselves, Morris claiming his ninth goal of the season.

Referee Antony Smith played a key advantage, allowing Morris to beat two defenders and slot home from 18 yards in the 16th minute.

Alex Halloran was pulling the strings in midfield while teenage striker Bailey Rowe caused Poppies a multitude of problems up front.

Portland’s first-half dominance was not reflected in the half-time scoreline but the Blues resumed their control of the contest in the second half.

Batista saw a good chance tipped over by the Poppies' keeper and missed another opportunity before Morris went close to grabbing his second.

Therefore it was no surprise when Batista put Portland two goals clear, controlling and finishing with aplomb after a surging run and through ball from Sol Roche.

Poppies pushed for a consolation in the final stages, away keeper Steve Boore having to make an alert save at his near post, but Portland were otherwise comfortable in claiming a 12th win of the season.

Speaking to Echosport, King hailed all aspects of his side’s victory.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the performance, attitude and the commitment on a difficult playing surface. It was a very encouraging win.

“We knew it was going to be tricky. It was quite heavy and bobbly. We changed the shape and way we wanted to play because of the pitch.

“We didn’t think we were going to be able to play too much football on it, so we tried to get it forward a little quicker – we went with three up front and three in midfield.

“Right from the start we started controlling the game, getting into good areas, causing them problems, picking second balls up and put a lot of pressure on them.”

After winning following a two-week lay-off, King said: “You can train as much as you want, but there’s nothing like game time.

“There’ll be some heavy legs – it was Alex’s first 90 minutes after a while. We’ve missed his experience in keeping the ball.

“Also when you’re playing on pitches like that it’s a learning curve for some of the younger lads that are used to playing on decent surfaces week in, week out.

“You’ve got to sometimes go to these places, dig in and do the basics, have a good touch and play the ball into good areas.

“As long as you’re working hard you’ll get your just rewards. That happened, which was really pleasing.”

Blues: Boore, Bastick, Bessant, Symes, Cox, Halloran, Morris, Williams, S Roche (Whyton 82), Batista (Hutchinson 75), Rowe (Godfrey 69).