PORTLAND United dug deep to find an 89th-minute equaliser in their opening Velocity Wessex League Premier Division clash of the season at Laverstock & Ford.

Trailing thanks to Archie Lovegrove’s opener, the Blues looked on course for a disappointing defeat until Luke Sheehy scored a debut goal to share the points.

On the balance of play, the leveller was no less than Portland deserved after the Blues carved out their fair portion of chances during the game.

Against a side that finished eighth in the table last season, Portland were immediately on top as a defensive error gifted Brin Doyle a shot at goal that needed to be saved in the first minute.

READ MORE: Crediton United 1-2 Portland United - report

Laverstock responded with two off-target efforts but their defence experienced another nervy moment when Sheehy charged the keeper down, unlucky not to see the rebound nestle in the net.

Portland should have punished yet another error when Lavvy’s misplaced pass fell to the striker, only for the home keeper to deny his effort.

Shortly before the break, Sayers had the ball in the back of the net but play was pulled back for a foul with no advantage given.

If Portland had finished the half on top, they were on the receiving end early in the second as Lavvy took a 48th-minute lead.

Lovegrove was quickest to react to the loose ball after a header clattered the bar, the striker burying his effort past Blues keeper Harrison Bruton.

Portland shook off the goal and rediscovered their attacking play, Jack Delves forcing a good save with a dipping 30-yard free-kick.

From the resulting corner, Shaun Bessant had an effort cleared off the line and Josh Williams later twice went close.

The midfielder grazed the post on 70 minutes and had a second attempt beaten away on the angle as the Blues pushed for a point.

Sub striker Bailey Rowe, on for Sayers, was denied a penalty and had a shot tipped away before Portland finally came up trumps in front of goal.

Sheehy ran on to a pass that took him into the area, albeit wider than desired, but the acute angle did not matter as he blasted home in the penultimate minute of the 90.

Laverstock & Ford really should have won the game in the 94th minute as Bruton’s magnificent save fell perfectly for a tap-in, only for the hosts to miss a gaping open goal.

However, Portland would have felt aggrieved had they missed out on a point and the draw means they are already ahead of last season, which began with a 2-1 home loss to Poppies.

On Saturday, Portland turn their attentions to the FA Cup extra preliminary round and a challenging tie at Step 4 side and current Wessex champions Horndean (3pm).

Blues: Bruton, Harvey, Stuttle, Williams, Bessant, Gadsby, Doyle (Symes 76), Delves, Sayers (Rowe 57), Sheehy, Morris. Subs not used: Steele, Callow, Cleaver.