PORTLAND United drew 1-1 with Hamble Club as the Blues claimed a point from one of their more unconvincing performances of the Velocity Wessex League Premier Division season.

Coming into the game, the Blues were celebrating boss Kyle Critchell’s one-year anniversary in charge.

But Portland could not find a display to match the occasion as Hamble, armed with a gameplan to frustrate the hosts, were well worthy of a point.

In the first half, Portland were denied by good defending against Aidan Shepherd in key situations, Hamble retreating to find blocks at the last moment.

READ MORE: Kyle Critchell celebrates 'whirlwind' first year in charge at Portland United

But the hosts did take the lead on 28 minutes through Brin Doyle’s fine strike from the edge of the box.

Portland’s goal was against the run of play and the Blues were indebted to goalkeeper Harrison Bruton who kept their powder dry in the first half by repelling a one-on-one chance.

Hamble continued to frustrate Portland in the second half and deservedly got themselves level on the break as Charlie Fox finished off an attractive move.

And in a second half in which both teams largely cancelled each other out, the Blues ended with 10 men as Connor Callow was sin-binned with five minutes to go.

However, Hamble were unable to trouble the islanders and the points were shared as Portland moved up into fifth ahead of Brockenhurst, following their 5-2 defeat at Shaftesbury.

Cowes possess a game in hand on the islanders and will move above them should they win it.

Post-match, Critchell told Echosport: “I’m a little bit disappointed, especially in front of a sizeable crowd. We didn’t set off with any intent.

“They tried to come with a gameplan to frustrate us and it worked. They obviously planned and did their homework.

“It’s a game where a point we’re probably lucky with, if I’m honest. In terms of chances, they created more.

“Our offence was fairly passive and it’s a huge step forward for us to not lose the game. Three or four months ago we’d have potentially lost.

“So, we collect a point and it still keeps us in good shape for the season. We’ll take the positives from the game.

“Brin’s finish was sensational, a real individual effort. It takes us into half-time and we’re looking at how we can be more offensive.

“Then, they scored against the run of play. On reflection, is a draw a fair result? Potentially.

“The important part for us is to keep putting points on the board. We’re going to have those types of performances. We’ve got a lot of young lads and there will be lots of highs and lows.”

Critchell’s men are next in action at home to play-off hopefuls AFC Portchester on Saturday, January 27 (3pm).

Blues: Bruton, Bessant, Gadsby, Callow, Stuttle, Williams, Doyle, Coombs (McKechnie 60), Wickham, Bent, Shepherd (Morris 65). Subs not used: Harvey, Scott, Symes.

Attendance: 253.

Match sponsor: D Whyton Building Services.

Man of the match sponsors: Lewis Whyton and the ‘Nearly Old Boys’.

Match ball sponsor: Chris King.