PORTLAND United kept pace with their fellow play-off hopefuls, hitting back from behind to beat Petersfield Town 2-1 in the Velocity Wessex League Premier Division.

Kyle Critchell’s men remain seventh after wins for fifth-placed Brockenhurst and Laverstock & Ford in sixth.

Meanwhile, Baffins, holders of two games in hand, suffered a 3-2 loss to Shaftesbury and are two points off the Blues in eighth.

Before completing their 16th league win from 33 matches, Portland had to negotiate going a goal behind in the 24th minute.

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The Blues were stripped of possession in midfield, falling into Petersfield’s pressing trap, before Callum Kimber fired past goalkeeper Harrison Bruton.

Portland were only behind for a matter of seconds as, from the kick-off, Petersfield’s defence misjudged a long ball and Greg Borthwick took full advantage to notch his 16th goal of the season.

Portland carried a huge threat from set-plays throughout the match but Petersfield held firm until the 69th minute when the Blues’ winner came from an unlikely source.

Jack Delves, whose deliveries caused a headache for the Rams all afternoon, stroked in a fine inswinging corner and Shaun Bessant was there to head home his maiden goal of the campaign.

Bessant could have added a second on the day, only to nod on a set-piece wide of the target.

But his goal proved to be the match-winner as Portland earned a seventh away victory this term.

First-team coach Josh Hickman told Echosport: “It’s a really tough place to come, we respect Petersfield a lot.

“They’re a really good team, promoted, and when we played our home game it was really tight with not a lot of chances.

“(Saturday) was a different game for ourselves. We managed to create a few more chances after adapting and coming into the game with a different formation because we knew their strengths and weaknesses.

“They went ahead and it was good to get an instant reply because we didn’t deserve to be behind.”

Blues: Bruton, Bessant, Stuttle (Clarke 90+5), Buckler (Doyle 52), Gadsby, Callow, Wickham, Williams, Borthwick (Bent 75), Camp, Delves (Coombs 90). Sub not used: Morris.

Attendance: 208.