PORTLAND United pondered two set-piece goals as Velocity Wessex League Premier Division leaders Moneyfields claimed a 2-0 victory on Friday night at their temporary Chichester home.

Kyle Critchell’s Blues more than played their part in a high-quality affair, having seen a Josh Williams penalty saved and George Stuttle hit the bar, but the Moneys were able to bank another three points.

The defeat keeps Portland in sixth place, one outside the play-offs, while Moneyfields extend to five points their lead over AFC Stoneham with a game in hand.

In a spirited display, Portland conjured the first chance as Greg Borthwick raced through only to be denied by a superb last-ditch tackle.

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And Moneyfields were rewarded for their defensive intensity, duly opening the scoring in the 18th minute.

Portland did not deal with Steven Ramsey’s inswinging free-kick and defender Tom Cain was quickest to pounce, netting from six yards out.

Josh Camp responded by forcing home keeper Dylan Kramer into a good save, while Borthwick could not find a way past Kramer from 25 yards as the custodian made a solid stop.

However, Portland were again left to rue a defensive misstep just three minutes into the second half.

Ramsey’s free-kick prowess provided the source as Ben Pashley climbed highest to nod beyond keeper Harrison Bruton.

Portland reacted by freshening up their midfield, new signing Max Buckler replacing Jack Delves for his debut, before a breathless finale to the match.

Camp’s shot at goal hit a Moneyfields hand in the area and Portland were awarded a penalty seven minutes from time.

Williams, just as he did at Blackfield & Langley, was given spot-kick responsibilities but his shot towards the bottom-right corner lacked the power to beat Kramer.

Kramer’s goal lived a charmed life two minutes later when sub Stuttle connected with Jamie Symes’ knockdown, only to see his effort cannon off the bar.

Despite having given Moneyfields a late scare, the Blues were unable to withdraw three points but Critchell did note his satisfaction with the majority of the islanders’ performance.

He told Echosport: “We were fantastic, in all honesty. A really good performance that probably didn’t warrant the result we got.

“Ultimately, it came down to two set-pieces, stuff that we worked on and went over. That’s four set-pieces in two games against them. That’s the frustrating side.

“But, I can’t be proud enough of the players, the way we dug in and caused them a lot of issues. We had some lovely feedback from their management.

“We still have the (equal) third-best defensive record in the league, but 50 per cent of those goals are from set-plays. We’re definitely going to have to address it.”

Portland next visit Fareham Town on Thursday (7.45pm).

Blues: Bruton, Bessant, Clarke (Stuttle 70), Williams, Gadsby, Callow, Morris, Delves (Buckler 60), Camp, Borthwick (Symes 70), Doyle. Subs not used: Harvey, Coombs.

Attendance: 164.