Morris 61


BEN Morris grabbed the winner as Portland United defeated Sherborne Town 1-0 at a blustery Camp & Satherley Stadium.

Victory extended to 16 games Portland’s enviable unbeaten home run, meaning the Blues have yet to taste defeat in front of their faithful under boss Kyle Critchell.

Kicking into the early gusts of Storm Babet, Portland soon found any aerial ball was buffeted back ten metres.

Sherborne, meanwhile, had the elements behind them and Brad Shephard was first to shy at goal from 30 yards only to drag wide of goal.

Portland then came the closest either team would go to scoring in the ninth minute thanks to a brisk counter-attack.

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Sherborne’s poor scuffed free-kick by the corner flag allowed the Blues to break, Jack Delves finding Greg Borthwick. He ignored Joe Wickham outside and unfurled a curler towards the top-right corner, only for Zebras’ keeper Liam Norris to produce a spectacular fingertip save.

The chance settled Portland after a slow start and the hosts went close through Ben Morris and Borthwick shots across the face of goal before Josh Williams pulled wide from 25 yards.

Norris endured a nervy moment when he spilled a Wickham corner, Sherborne mopping up after him, but the keeper made amends when he blocked a Borthwick shot with his legs seconds later.

Sherborne could only threaten sporadically and their next effort came when Anthony Herrin smacked a free-kick into the wall.

Shephard tested Harrison Bruton with an awkwardly dipping 30-yarder, well gathered by the keeper, before Delves toe-poked wide following good work by the outstanding Ryan McKechnie.

However, Sherborne gave a reminder of their menace on 44 minutes when Ollie Hebbard fizzed a shot inches wide of the far post that had Bruton diving at full stretch.

After the break, Sherborne’s ex-Dorchester Town midfielder Callum Thompson had a goal ruled out for offside and Portland went close themselves when Borthwick’s effort deflected wide.

Portland began to pick up the pace as McKechnie’s drilled attempt spiralled into the air via a deflection and Morris headed at Norris, who gathered at the second grab.

George Stuttle, making his return from an ankle injury, lashed into the side-netting but the Blues finally made the breakthrough on 61 minutes.

McKechnie's stunning crossfield ball was killed by an immaculate piece of control by Morris, who drove into the box and ripped a deflected effort beyond Norris.

Portland sensed a second as Borthwick grazed the outside of the post with another deflected shot before a raft of substitutions from the hosts.

In the midst of the alterations, Connor Callow did well to head clear a Sherborne free-kick as the visitors embarked on a rare attack having struggled against the wind all second half.

Blues sub Hayden Scott fired tamely at Norris from 20 yards in the 84th minute as Portland looked for a second goal that would end the contest.

Their failure to open a cushion allowed Sherborne the chance of a draw and they nearly snatched one in the 89th minute when sub striker Alfie Calway flicked a header narrowly wide of the far post.

Portland wasted yet another opportunity to settle the match in the 92nd minute as Borthwick lifted over from six yards, meaning his run of scoring in nine consecutive games came to an end.

His miss did not prove costly though, as Portland successfully saw time out to claim a remarkable seventh straight victory in all competitions.

Blues: Bruton, Harvey, Stuttle (Symes 73), Williams (Scott 51), Gadsby, Callow, Wickham (Woolford 78), McKechnie, Borthwick, Delves (Sheehy 66), Morris. Sub not used: Bessant.

Referee: Thomas Farr.

Attendance: 185.

Match and man of the match sponsor: Tilleys Ltd.

Match ball sponsor: Dave Darby.

Programme sponsor: Kath Sanderson.

Mascots: Portland Wildcats Under-nine girls.