PORTLAND United booked back-to-back wins to ignite their push for the Velocity Wessex League Premier Division play-offs with a 2-1 success at US Portsmouth.

Three points puts the Blues within a victory of the magical fifth spot, currently held by Brockenhurst.

While the Blues have made massive strides forward this season, a recurring theme has been their failure to be more proficient with taking chances.

Decked out in their new red away kit, the Blues could easily have put the game out of sight before the R’s set up a tense finale.

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The late nerves were needless, especially after such a positive first half.

Connor Callow failed to trouble Logan O’Donnell from a corner, the goalkeeper making a regulation save, before Jack Delves worked the home custodian from a free-kick.

Josh Williams also tried his luck from range but Portland finally went 1-0 up when Jamie Cleaver volleyed through O’Donnell at the back post from Joe Wickham’s deflected left-wing cross.

And just four minutes later Portland deservedly doubled their lead when Delves’ whipped free-kick bypassed everyone in the box before nestling into the bottom corner.

In the second half, Aidan Shepherd missed two one-on-ones, Connor Bent was also denied when clean through and two back-post headers from Ben Morris failed to beat O’Donnell.

And the R’s gave themselves a lifeline thanks to a quality 25-yard free-kick from Nathan Clements that rendered keeper Harrison Bruton helpless.

Portland were then forced to ride out late pressure to lock in the three points, taking them within one of last season’s tally of 47 with 10 games remaining.

Speaking to Echosport, Kyle Critchell praised his players for consecutive wins while noting their profligacy in front of goal.

He said: “We are over the moon. In all honesty, the game should’ve been put to bed a lot earlier. We created so many chances to make that game more comfortable.

“Credit to US Portsmouth. They showed a spirit and desire. It took a really well-taken free-kick to get back into the game.

“We had to ride the storm towards the end but in terms of performances it’s definitely up there away from home as one of our best this season.”

He added: “We talk about efficiency and trying to better our standards. We’re trying to mould our team and image. We’re a much more front-foot side.

“I thought the combinations we played out wide and in partnerships were really good. Moving forward, to make games more comfortable and to become a better side, we have to be more efficient and score more.

“We could’ve scored five, six, seven and no-one would’ve batted an eyelid, but ended up having to hold on, which is the disappointing thing.”

Portland next travel to Andover New Street on Tuesday (7.45pm).

Blues: Bruton, Wickham, Clarke (Harvey 75), Cleaver (Symes 86), Gadsby, Callow, Doyle (Morris 70), Williams (Coombs 75), Shepherd (Camp 70), Delves, Bent.

Attendance: 62.